Kristie Smith teaches visually impaired children in Mesquite, Texas. And she writes one of the most touching stories I've read in a long time. It's a lesson about the unexpected inspiration and kindness that many of find in people we try and inspire and to whom we try and express kindness.
I didn't just enjoy reading this in the Dallas Morning News - I was blessed by it.
I hope you are too...
"As a teacher for the visually impaired and blind, I am always on the lookout for goals that will help my students achieve and have the best quality of life."
"What I did not expect when I began teaching students with low or no vision is that they would teach me more than I could ever teach them."
"One student in particular comes to mind. While determined to explore, learn and socialize, this boy stayed way below grade level because his body would not allow him to think and move like most of us. Austin Ziegler was born blind, with physical and cognitive delays. He had a speech impairment. However, no one ever told Austin that he could not achieve his most passionate goals."
"His amazing mother, Jan, told him something else entirely, and Austin, who once barely spoke, now talks almost nonstop."
"Recently, Jan and Austin invited me to listen to him preach. I knew that a neighbor had built Austin a pulpit inside a vacant room, and that had become Austin’s church."
"Members of his church gave him Bibles and songbooks, and Jan bought him drums, an amplifier and a microphone. Austin preaches daily and for long hours. It does not matter to him if it’s his mother, neighbors or no one at all when he speaks the word of God. He preaches, prays and sings from his heart."
"When I went to Austin’s church, I took my mother. We greeted Jan and sat down to listen to a sermon. I was not prepared for what came out of a student with major disabilities. Today he was not the student; I was."
"Austin preached to Jan, my mother, me and a dog. What could have only come from God was Austin’s message: “I am going to talk about faith. I don’t know what it is, but you have to believe it to receive it.”"
"Austin, did not know that I was on the verge of tears, thoughts of my recent divorce weighing heavily on my mind. And then he asked us to pray."
"“Dear God, please help Kristie to feel better,” he prayed. As he continued with other requests and prayers of thankfulness, I bit my lip and tried not to cry, but the tears poured out."
"We sang current Christian songs, such as, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” and then he asked me to come to the pulpit, where he anointed me with oil. (Maybe it was from Bath and Body Works, but it did the trick.)"
"As I was being anointed, I kept thinking that more people should be like Austin instead of the other way around. We should work hard and with passion whether we are being watched or not."
"Austin, Jan, my mother and I sang and prayed, and as Austin preached through the authority of God, I could see something new in him. He was not disabled; I felt disabled, but Austin gave me the confidence to move forward without feeling bitterness."
"I left feeling hopeful and happy, knowing I could follow my student’s teaching that to have faith you must believe it to receive. Even if neither one of us always knows what that means."