As a young girl in a new high school, Beth had received the shock of her freshman year when her Vice Principal called her into his office. He and all the other teachers had asked her to work alongside a fellow student with Down syndrome. Seeing herself as unqualified with no experience, Beth had turned down the opportunity.
That evening around the dinner table, Beth’s family batted around the usual “how was your day?” questions. Recalling her conversation with her Vice Principal, Beth shared, “You won’t believe what I was called into the office for today!” She shared the hilarious story of her being chosen for this special request.
Her family stared in silence.
“Isn’t that amusing? Like why on earth would they pick me for such an important position?” Beth asked.
Looking at each other, Beth’s parents replied, “We think this is a role God created you for! We have always known your gifts were special.”
“Wait, you’re supposed to agree with me that this isn’t my gifting,” Beth said, surprised for the second time that day. She had expected them to affirm her shrinking back from the position, not push her forward to pursue it.
For the next week, Beth lived in limbo as to what to do, while her family and friends urged her to change her mind and embrace this opportunity. Shortly after the initial opportunity, as Beth walked across campus to class, Carter himself dove out of the gym into the courtyard sunshine. She watched this enthusiastic individual maneuver through the milling students. He indiscriminately passed out happy hellos and high fives to anyone and everyone. Then, unexpectedly, he steered straight for Beth and gave her the biggest high five of all! Immediately, Beth couldn’t help but realize the privilege God had placed before her.
“What are you doing?” she asked God, as Carter continued his high five extravaganza. “I have no abilities. He is too different than me.”
But God wouldn’t let go of Beth’s heart. Through His eyes, she came to see that she and Carter were actually more alike than different.
“I need to say yes,” Beth decided. Fear still existed, but faith began to bud as she knew God had perfect purposes in this plan.
Finally, Beth ventured back to the school front office and knocked on her Vice Principal’s large brown door. She spilled the story of her week, concluding, “I know you’ve already filled the position, but I want you to know how humbled and honored I am that you thought of me.”
The Vice Principal stopped her mid-sentence smiling, “The position is still open. I knew you would come back. The teachers told me, ‘Don’t replace Beth.’” Surprised for the third time in one week, Beth saw the open door and took her first step through it.
For the weeks to come, Carter became the catalyst God used to modify Beth’s scrupulous future plans. Every hour by Carter’s side, God chipped away at Beth’s hidden but erroneous understanding of disability. That year, Beth learned her first lesson—replacing the hierarchy in her heart with an appreciation for God’s design in diversity.
“Some say Carter did all the learning from me,” Beth reflected, “But actually, I did all the learning.” Truly, the future teacher first became the student…
Danielle Ledoux is a former intern with Joni and Friends’ Cause 4 Life program who enjoys writing about God’s work in people’s lives. She is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College and recently received her Master of Fine Arts in Dramatics.