I used to think I knew what perfect humanity looked like. I thought it had to do with virtues like kindness and honesty. I also thought it had to do with physical strength and independence. As a Christian, I referenced Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Jesus as two exemplars of what humanity was supposed to look like.
And I thought that people with disabilities didn’t fit this vision.
But once Penny was born, I started to question my assumptions. I started to reorient “perfection” towards the Greek idea of completion, or wholeness, rather than strength. I started to reorient perfection towards love and community rather than independence.
I remember reading Chuck Colson’s introduction to his daughter’s memoir Dancing with Max, about her son (his grandson) who has autism. I was worried Colson was going to talk about how Max would be healed when he went to heaven or something like that, and instead, Colson wrote that he thought he would probably be more like Max in heaven.
My general sense is that many people with disabilities—and perhaps intellectual disabilities in particular?—demonstrate something true about our humanity because of the awareness and lack of self-consciousness about being needy and dependent and vulnerable. I think all of us are both broken and beloved, and the belovedness will remain and the brokenness will be healed. But I also think the healing will look different than we expect. Whatever we look like when we are fully in God’s presence, perfect humanity will mean looking more like love.
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