By Rachel Hott

Some people choose to see disability as broken or damaged, as a challenge or hindrance, or maybe even as a glitch in the genetic makeup. I choose to look at disability the way God sees it. Not as a disability, but as a gift. If not a gift for the person with the disability, a gift for the people around that person. God does not make mistakes in creating life, as shown in one of my favorite stories in John when Jesus comes upon the blind man and strikes down the typical way of thinking about a person with a “disability.”

In John 9:1-3, the Bible reads, “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Or in Exodus 4:11, “The Lord said, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” These verses prove that what we think of as a “disability” or a “mistake” is anything but that. It is a gift so that people with “disabilities” can display the works of God through unprejudiced hearts and minds.

I am the sister of a special needs brother, Jackson. He is 15 years old and has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Though these disorders may seem inhibitive, he has made incredible strides by breaking the shackles that were meant to hold him back and has amazed everyone around him. Not only is Jackson my brother, but he is my best friend, the most incredible person you may ever meet, and my greatest teacher. Jackson has taught me what it means to love unconditionally without judgment, to appreciate everything I have been blessed with, to show empathy, to be confident in my differences, and most of all, to never give up.

Jackson has a way of living that is so carefree, so full of joy and laughter, and so pure, how I think everyone should live. Jackson walks around, a smile never failing to show up from ear to ear on his face, and shares love with anyone who will let him, no matter their gender, skin color, size, etc. There is something to learn from that. Jackson loves the way Jesus teaches us to love, which is how the world should look at people with disabilities and people with disabilities should look at themselves, with love.

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