Made in God’s Image, Grace & Truth
I’d like to introduce you to a special friend of mine from college.
His name is Darold, and we worked together in a group home as I studied for my degree in human development and psychology.
Even though it’s been almost 30 years, I remember his lessons like it was yesterday. He taught me real-life stuff you can only learn through experience.
But Darold wasn’t my boss or seasoned caregiver.
Darold was a resident – a middle-aged man who had never spoken an intelligible word or fully potty-trained through the night.
So, what could a young, ambitious college student possibly learn about from some someone stuck in the mind of an 18-month-old?
Darold taught me about love.
He sat in his kitchen chair and made eye-contact at every possibility so he could wave and smile.
And, oh, what a smile! I can still feel the warmth of that smile, even in this very moment.
And I can still see the sparkle in his eyes, too. The same eyes that I’d see rolling into the back of his head during one of several nocturnal seizures later that evening.Have you ever wondered how you could be made like God and yet be so flawed? Click To Tweet
But when he was awake, Darold smiled.
The best thing about Darold was when you got within his reach. Just as a child seizes his desire, claiming “mine,” so did Darold to anyone who got close. The only thing about Darold more genuine than his smile was his hug.
So when Made in God’s Image – Down Syndrome Awareness Month reminded me of Darold, I knew I had to share it with you so I could tell you about him.
How Can People With Disabilities Be Made in God’s Image ?
By the very label of “disability”, the world defines people like Darold by what they can’t do.
But God made Darold just like Him.
He made Darold to show the world love.
There’s another, even more personal reason I chose Beth’s post for today.
Just one year ago this week, I was diagnosed with cognitive disability and memory impairment caused by prescription medication taken during a rare brain disease.
It’s tough to add “disability” and “impairment” to your own medical history. I had a few questions for God, including this one from Beth’s post:
What does it mean to be created in God’s image when there is something wrong with me?What does it mean to be created in God’s image when there is something wrong with me? Click To Tweet
After I stopped whining, the diagnosis provided a path for me to cope and adapt. For example, I thought I struggled with a lack of idea development as a writer because I can’t seem to compose long, complex pieces like other writers.
But now, through Candid Moments, I use my words to show God’s love in brief devotions. And honestly, I want everyone who reads my words to know I have a cognitive disability, so they know where my words, my strength, and my hope come from.
As Beth said, we’re all disabled in some way. Have you ever wondered how you could be made like God and yet be so flawed?
Head on over to As He Leads is Joy to find out more about what it means to be Made in God’s Image.
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Made in God’s Image – Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Are You Up For Some Family Fun This Holiday Season?
Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re looking for something to do with your family over the holiday, consider teaching them how to make their own t-shirt or decorate a coffee mug. Everyone will walk away with keepsakes and memories, which will make this holiday a hit.
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Valerie, you convey such a powerful message. Not only does Darold’s story move my heart, but also your beautiful story. Because it shows how God rescues and uses misfits–all of us in some way as Beth notes. And we are all spiritual misfits in need of a Savior to remind us we are fashioned in God’s image and for His glory.
Amen, Karen! And thank you! I sincerely believe the saying that God doesn’t need your ability – just your availability.
Valerie, a most beautiful post! I love that you emphasized the disabled ARE made in the image of God. Darold personifies so many disabled people for me. Everyone I have had the privilege to encounter has taught me about love. Thank you for sharing Beth’s post!
Thanks, Donna! It’s funny you say that every disabled person you’ve encountered has taught you about love, because I actually had to decide whom of many clients to write about! I chose Darold because he truly has always held such a soft spot in my heart. I remember him as one of the most severely disabled people I worked with, and yet the most loving – without ever speaking a word.
Love this post, Valarie. We are all made in his image, disabilities, weaknesses, differences, and all. We all have things to teach and ways to show God to others. Thanks for telling us about Darald, and using your words to reach others.
Thank you, Theresa! Your encouragement means a lot to me, and I’m glad you enjoyed meeting Darold.
This post really touched my heart this morning Valerie, I have a granddaughter with special needs & yes indeed she is full of God’s love.
I have autoimmune conditions including chronic pain & brain malaise (cognitive dysfunction aka fibro fog) but I as you have found my strength & enabling in this time of ‘disabling’ comes from my heavenly Father.
Jennifer, I’m so glad this post encouraged you on such a personal level. Doesn’t it feel good to reach out to others with similar struggles? I’m learning that we don’t have to hide our “disfunction.” Instead, we can celebrate our common strength and support one another in our struggle. We’re never alone.
We used to visit a home for special needs adult every summer. The residents always made a huge impression on us adults who were chaperones as much as they did on the teens that we took. Darold sounds like a beautiful soul!
It’s wonderful that people like you take the time to spend with the residents and to give the teens that experience. I’m sure the experiences those kids had changed them. Thank you for visiting and for sharing your experience, Lisa.