“They were relentless,” her Sunday School teacher said.

My heart ached as the teacher described my daughter being cornered at church by a brother and sister who were new to the Sunday School class and who had never seen a child who was missing a hand.

My five-year-old daughter tried to explain to them that God had made her special in this way. But they persisted. “You’re creepy and scary. Why do you look like that?”

The teacher intervened several times, but the kids wouldn’t stop their jeering. Finally, the mother and teacher talked to the pair, explaining to them about differences in people. They stopped being cruel to my daughter, but the damage was done. And it didn’t take long for me to notice.

Because of my daughter’s undeveloped hand, I usually alter her long-sleeved clothing to fit her properly. But the next Sunday, my daughter wanted to leave the sleeve long, so that the fabric would fall over her arm and conceal the missing hand.

My heart sank.

We adopted our daughter when she was one, and we have watched her grow into a confident, beautiful, and joyful child. Every day we have encouraged her and built her up for these very moments that we knew, sadly, would eventually come. We have explained to her friends that she can do almost anything they can do; she just has to do it a little differently.

Our family, extended family, and friends have come alongside us to make our daughter feel special. But as she gets older and we are forced to release her into the world, she will be faced with these hurtful moments more often.

Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, “How could those kids have been so mean? That’s awful!” But if we are honest with ourselves, haven’t we all judged someone for how they looked? Dressed? Talked? Judged them for the color of their skin? For their disability?

No, maybe we didn’t back them into a corner and yell hurtful things to their face, but in the secret spaces of our brains, we did nearly the same. And maybe like these kids, we didn’t even feel bad about it.

All people, including people with special needs and disabilities, are wonderfully made—as is all of creation. A God who “counts the stars and calls them all by name” is a detail-oriented God (Psalm 147:4). He doesn’t make mistakes.

Moreover, He is a planner. God knows the plans He has for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11), and He says, “Everything I plan will come to pass” (Isaiah 46:10). He made a plan for our world before time began. And all of us are part of that plan. We all have a race set before us to run (Hebrews 12:1).