By Amy Hillman
For many years I had a pillow that sat on our guest room bed. It was a small accent pillow that had beautiful hand-embroidery designs stitched on it and the words “Kindness Matters” in the middle.
At times I thought it was an odd pillow to have, but the more I live, I have decided that the statement is very true. Kindness does matter. It’s something I have to remind myself to do more and more these days.
A little more than three months ago my husband, Wilson, and I brought home our gorgeous daughter, Sue Ling, from China.
She is 8 years old and the most amazing child I have ever been around. I sit at night and study the face of the child we waited for so long.
We experienced years of hearts hurting for the child that would come…waiting and waiting. Now our hearts hurt because it’s been filled up with so much love that it feels like it could burst!
She’s an absolute beauty! A true joy. I love to feel her baby soft skin; stroke her shiny black hair; look at her delicately formed lips. She’s perfect in every way.
Above her bed, these words are painted on the wall, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… (Psalm 139:14)”.
If you spend any time with our daughter, you will find a little girl with tremendous personality! She has some of the best laughs and giggles. She loves to sing and dance and will entertain you all day long. She says the cutest things and amazes you with her language development, even though she has only been home such a short time. She has such a kind heart and sweet spirit.
She bonded with us instantly and gives us endless kisses and hugs all day long. My husband says it’s like being kissed by God. It is.
Our child has facial features that are different from most people. She’s unique.
In fact, when we finally have genetic testing done and if it confirms our hunch, she will be considered rare. To me she is like a rare jewel that was hidden for some time, just waiting for the moment that the Lord would bring her out and let her shine for His glory.
She’s bold and courageous, and you better believe she is going to let her little light shine. I can’t even imagine how the Lord will use her in the years ahead.
Will He develop a strong faith in her so that she can share how the Lord cares for us and redeems us from despair? Will He give her opportunities to become influential in society to help people see that disability can sometimes only be a reflection of a shell and not a limitation of what the person is like on the inside? Or, will He use her to simply bring joy into people’s lives that need it the most?
I don’t know, but what I do know is that He’s up to something. She’s already changing lives. She’s changed ours.
So how does kindness connect with this story? Three months ago, when we became a forever family, we began learning valuable lessons in kindness.
We were taken aback when we first began venturing out of our hotel into the streets of China with our daughter.
We were so proud as new parents, but our smiles quickly began to fade as we began seeing people staring at our daughter with ugly expressions on their faces. Some would act rudely and make unkind sounds or gestures that broke a mother’s (and father’s) heart.
Differences aren’t always accepted in other cultures and places. I worried about how much my daughter could understand and how this would affect her.
Our child had been sheltered behind walls and gates at an orphanage all her life. Now, she was coming out into the world, but the faces that she saw were not of smiles or acceptance. They were expressions of disgust and rejection. It broke my heart. The Lord encouraged us to be strong and courageous and reminded us that He was with us wherever we went. I never knew that He would teach us so much about how kindness does matter.
I could tell you more about our struggles on the streets of China, but I could also tell you about the time a beautifully elegant Chinese lady followed us along the streets and did nothing but smile and make my child feel special. It did a mother’s heart good after days of feeling like we had been beaten down by the stares of people.
I could tell you that we were apprehensive about coming back to the states and wondered how our daughter would be accepted in America, but we knew that all was going to be okay the moment we landed in Los Angeles. People working in the airport went out of their way to help us navigate our way through the airport to our next flight. People smiled as we walked past. People came out of their way to talk to our daughter.
I could tell you about the first time we ventured out of the house to visit a public park and had an unpleasant encounter with an unkind little boy, but I could also tell you about the awesome families that have spent time preparing their children to meet our daughter. The have taught their children that differences are okay and that we can be kind to children who are different. Sweet children were waiting for our daughter to come home so that they could play with their new friend.
I could tell you that there are times you wish you could just fade into the background. Times when you wish you could enter a restaurant or event without the whole room looking at you. But I could also tell you about how fun it is to visit the grocery store each week. The people who work there know who we are now. They give us stickers, balloons, and even get upset when we don’t come through their checkout line.
I could tell you that we have days when we feel exhausted and discouraged from taking care of a child with many needs, but I could also tell you about times when complete strangers have come up and given us encouragement during the moments we needed it. Like a family that saw us eating and brought a note to our table as they left. They told us that our family was beautiful and wished us God’s blessings. They also included money for our next meal “on them.”
Let me stop now, for I might go on and on about the acts of kindness we have received, and overwhelm you!
However, I think it’s good for us to stop and appreciate the kindness of people around us. It can seem hard to find in all that is going on in our society, but it is not dead.
Kindness is the overflow of love. And the best example of kindness… love…was shown through our Savior Jesus Christ. He showed kindness to us even when we were sinners. Even when His creation rejected and crucified Him, He showed us that love mattered.
I hope that you are encouraged to find ways to show kindness today. Make kindness matter. Extend kindness to others, even if it doesn’t get received with appreciation.
I can bet that you will find people who really needed a smile, needed those encouraging words, or needed your help. Look for people who are different, and encourage them. Teach and prepare your children for the day they might encounter someone with differences. How will they react, and what will they say? You’re not just teaching them to be cordial, but you are developing and opening their hearts to love.
Teach them that kindness matters.
Show the world that kindness matters.
To read more writings by Amy, visit her blog, A Rare Jewel: Our Adoption Story.