You were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). You have value and worth because of this truth alone. Your personality, your talents, your capabilities, your IQ – none of these qualities determine your value. You are a child of God and because of that, I celebrate your existence.
I choose to recognize your inherent worth-one that is not defined by your abilities-by addressing you by your name. You are a human being, just like me. Though we are different people, with different strengths and challenges, we are foremost united by our equal value in the eyes of God.
If the occasion arises when others need to understand why you might behave, appear, or think differently, I’ll gently explain your diagnosis. “This is my friend, Alyssa, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder,” I’ll say. By saying your name first, I’ll show that we can connect with you through our common humanity, and not by what distinguishes us.
But if you want to be known as Autistic Alyssa, I’ll respect that. You have a right to declare your identity to others and as a friend, I’ll respect your decision.
We share this common truth: our level of ability does not determine our status. For all of humanity is an interwoven mix of strength and weakness, gift and need. I need you in my life, just as you need me, for we each belong to the body of Christ and must work together to make it complete (2 Corinthians 12:3-8). Thank you for accepting me as a complete person, and for embracing my piece of humanity.
G.L.U.E. – A process to help faith communities understand, support, and include one another
Katie Barkley is the marketing communications manager at CLC Network.