I am thrilled today to have my friend Deanna from Everything and Nothing from Essex sharing a bit of her amazing story. I know you will love meeting Deanna and I’m confident that your heart will be touched through reading this post.
Learning The Art of Kindness
All my life I have struggled with the simple principle of kindness. I learn things very quickly, so I tend to have very little patience for those who don’t. Criticizing faults, situations, and the best effort of others happened more often then I would like to admit.
Even in simple things- pushing and shoving in the crowded malls, rolling my eyes when the bagger at the grocery store took so long to perform his job, whispering about the outfit that so-and-so wore to the party, ripping apart the solo at church that wasn’t pitch-perfect, making passive aggressive stabs in the back while listing “suggestions”. It’s easy to be unkind, and sadly that was me more often than not.
Then three years ago I found out that my first child- a little girl- was sovereignly created to include an extra chromosome. Down syndrome. This news devastated me. I struggled for a long time over the whys and the unfairness of my life being “cursed” in such a way.
Since her birth- only a few years ago but seemingly a lifetime- my life has changed in so many wonderful, positive ways that I can’t possibly list them all here. One of the things that she has taught me is the importance of replacing judgement with kindness.
As I looked at my little girl, developmentally delayed with many physical struggles, for the first time I saw the arrogance of my previous disregard for the feelings of others. My critical eye looked at her struggling to breathe, and I thought about the unfair standards that I wanted to put on the world around me just to feel better about myself. My sharp tongue sung her lullabies in the NICU without caring about whether I got the words all right. My sense of judgment was quieted when I held her after her heart surgeries simply thankful that she was alive.
Without even realizing it, a new appreciation for life became my new focus. I stopped picking apart differences and learned to celebrate them. I realized for the first time that everyone has their own unique struggles, and that it was my job to help where I could and then step back and praise best efforts even if it wasn’t the standard of perfection that I previously thought was the only way.
I feel very blessed to have Down syndrome in my life, but I know many of you only know about Down syndrome from a a picture reposted on Facebook or perhaps another headline about genetic testing. So when I tell you that October is Down syndrome Awareness Month you might wonder what you’re supposed to do with that bit of information as you continue to scramble toward the holiday rush.
I think that by focusing on the value of difference (even if we haven’t personally experienced a dramatic “difference” in our lives), we can all be reminded of importance of fundamental Christian virtues- such as kindness.
For this month-long celebration of Down syndrome, let’s all look deeper into the eyes of that person we’re tempted to criticize and see a person doing the very best they can. Let’s all think positively toward the differences of others instead of ripping them apart for not being “just like us”. Let’s celebrate kindness, uplift the power of the positive word, notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong, and see the difference in the small things that we can do for others- like a smile, a wave, or simply just being patient.
I would like to say that I’ve completely conquered this lesson myself, but the truth is, I’m still learning. But I’m confident in continued progress because I have a pretty great teacher- a little girl with a blonde ponytail, beaming smile, and shining blue eyes. It’s almost as if she was created just for me.
Thank you, thank you Deanna for this beautiful reminder!
Happy Sunday, y’all!!!