God doesn’t make water boys. He creates image bearers: human beings blessed with the privilege of reflecting God’s character through whatever God given capacities they possess. This reality is caught more than taught. It is conveyed in how we treat others in our relationships and in how we treat our children throughout the day.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)
When the younger of my two sons was in elementary school, he had a competitive relationship with one of the neighborhood boys. My son’s way of subtly getting under the other child’s skin was to lean over and whisper, “Water boy,” as he walked past him. Water boy. Why water boy? In team sports, is the water boy ever on the front page of the news? Is he given the most valuable player award? Does he get lifted to the shoulders of his teammates as they victoriously march off the field? No. The water boy is mostly invisible. He doesn’t wear the uniform. He’s less than a full-fledged team member.
As a parent of a child with disabilities, you are no doubt pain fully aware that whispers of “water boy” can be directed toward your child in countless different ways. The whispers may not be loud, but they are there. In spite of the advances in legal protections on behalf of those with disabilities, the perception that they are “less than” still permeates the atmosphere. These societal whispers can begin to get under our skin.
In God’s economy, however, different is not less than. In the opening chapter of Scripture, God reminds us of the simple truth that he loves diversity and has imparted value to every human being. He has created humankind to be diverse at the most fundamental level—that of male and female. Even more notable is that God creates every human being in his image. Every one of us is created with great value and an awesome responsibility: to bear God’s character in the world. There is no higher form of dignity. There is no greater calling.
God doesn’t make water boys. He creates image bearers: human beings blessed with the privilege of reflecting God’s character through whatever God given capacities they possess. This reality is caught more than taught. It is conveyed in how we treat others in our relationships and in how we treat our children throughout the day. When you encounter whispers of “water boy,” remember that although your child may be different, he or she is not less. Your child is endowed with inherent dignity. So, as an image bearer yourself, reflect God’s goodness, truth, and beauty into the world in how you respond to others and to your child.
Taken from Parenting & Disabilities: Abiding in God’s Presence by Stephanie O. Hubach, a recent release from P&R Publishing. Used with permission.