As some of you know, my daughter attends a class on Sunday in which a special education teacher and several aides teach a faith formation class for children with special needs. It is a model program that is beginning to expand to other churches in our area.
One thing my daughter’s teacher does at the start of every year is give every student a little book, the type that holds photographs. What’s amazing is the content of the book.
Every week the students are given an index card to place inside the book. Each index card has a picture on it representing the theme for the week, based off the readings that will be proclaimed in church that week.
The purpose of the card is for parents to write an act of love that their child performed during the week. Then during class, the teacher shares each child’s act of love with the class.
Years ago when we first were handed the little book we thought, what would we write?
Our daughter is autistic, so she doesn’t share her world easily. She doesn’t give hugs, open doors for others, or volunteer for anything. She doesn’t give compliments because she doesn’t speak.
How would we define an act of love when we look through her eyes?
That’s when Al and I realized we needed to go beyond external examples that are seen by most people.
We needed to see her for who she is, and how much joy she can bring.
The teachers at the Sunday school class are very kind. They always tell me they look forward to reading Mija’s card.
You see, I decided to write a thank-you to her every week.
I thank-her for making someone smile, for being able to enjoy her infectious laughter, for sitting still in her medical appointments, for simply being who she is. I thank her for being our daughter.
As a result, we now have several books with cards carrying concrete reminders of how our daughter is able to spread love and kindness. We can look back on them with very fond memories.
So now, I want to ask you to think about the people around you. It’s so easy to focus on negative things that someone can say or do.
Why not focus instead on the acts of love and kindness that others do?
What acts of love and kindness surround you every day?
I can assure you, you’ll begin to see the world in a different way when you acknowledge acts of love and kindness rather than acknowledging the negative ways that people treat one another, or speak to one another.
Sure, everyday life is not always kind. I know that. I see the looks that people give my child. There are many cruel realities. Still, I don’t have a lot of time on this earth (who does?) to spend that time fostering negative, pessimistic thoughts and actions.
This simple exercise to look for acts of love and kindness every week has taught my husband and me to focus on the good that our daughter can exude.
It has taught us that we can look at our little household and see acts of love and kindness reflected everyday in one another.
…and as you probably know, love and kindness beget love and kindness…
Pause a moment. Look around you. What acts of love and kindness do you see every day? Don’t focus on the negative.
Take another pause, especially before you do or say something to someone else.
What acts of love and kindness will you perform today?
– Thank-you, to Ms. Kay for teaching us all about the “Acts of Love” movement!
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