Nash Pils is a seventeen-year-old junior at Franklin High School. The small Texas town has a population of 1,614, but he is quickly becoming one of its best-known residents.
You see, as ESPN’s Dave Wilson writes, Nash has become a fixture at sporting events and major moments around the town because he is an extremely gifted photographer for his age, routinely capturing moments in ways that make his mentors in the field marvel.
Nash also has Down syndrome, a disability that has defined much of his world beyond the camera’s lens but which has also given him a unique perspective while behind it.
A “fearless” photographer
Nash has loved cameras since he was a kid and would often take pictures at his older brother’s games.
As his parents recount, early on people would see him with the camera and say, “Oh dear, no, give that camera to your parents, you’re going to break that.”
His parents would simply reply, “No he’s not. That’s his job.”
And it’s one he’s excelled at from an early age. He’s won multiple photography competitions.
- Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and family friend Tom Fox said Nash is “fearless” when it comes to taking pictures, adding, “I just love how real and natural his photos are.”
- Hannah White—another of Nash’s mentors—said “he knows what he wants to capture, and he’s not going to let anyone else dictate it to him. He is able to capture people’s happiness, laughter and just true human emotion.”
- White added that “through this process of him being able to get out and be involved with the school and with the community, it’s allowed people to see who Nash is. He is so much more than his Down syndrome.”
For his parents, that last part is what they care about most.
Nash’s mom, Honny, said, “For the first time, it wasn’t the disability. It was the ability.”
A close-up on how God sees you
Wilson’s profile is worth reading, but the part that stands out most is the joy his parents take in watching the community see their son through the lens of his gifts rather than his limitations.
And his story is a good reminder that that’s how our heavenly Father sees each of us as well.
Scripture is clear that not only are each of us sinners deserving of damnation, but that God is keenly aware of our status as well (Romans 3:23). However, it speaks with equal clarity to the reality that we are loved and valued in spite of that fact (John 3:16).
God is not ignorant of our sin, but our sin doesn’t define us either.
If we have accepted the free gift of salvation that Jesus died to give us, then we are first and foremost children restored to a personal and eternal relationship with the Lord.
Yes, we need to be honest about our shortcomings and repent of the sin in our lives, but the guilt that would try to make those failures the foundation of who we are is not from God.
And the same is true for others as well.
So the next time you are tempted to see either yourself or someone else through the lens of sin, take a step back and ask God to help you look through the lens of his love and grace instead.
After all, if that’s how our heavenly Father sees us, then it’s how we should see ourselves as well.