Happy Elevated Friday! Today we highlight a story from New York that is warming hearts around the country. Jack Higgins has worked incredibly hard to graduate from his high school and finally achieved his goals. However, he was daunted by the idea of walking across the stage to receive his diploma. A well-known and beloved student, Jack faces challenges most of us do not because he has autism. Because of his autism, he is very sensitive to noise and there are few places louder than a school gym full of elated graduating seniors. However, the principal of the school, Lou Riolo, told Jack’s parents he would ask the students to be quiet during Jack’s turn on stage. On graduation day, when it was Jack’s turn to walk across the stage, instead of the raucous applause Jack expected or the quiet golf claps Riolo expected, Jack was met with a room full of his classmates standing in silence to honor him. It was an incredible gesture of kindness, understanding, and acceptance and truly allowed Jack to soak in every minute of his achievement. Riolo said, “The students were amazing…Them rising to their feet after Jack received his diploma was them. It was not preplanned and no one told them to act like that. They felt compelled to show their support in that way. They made that amazing compassionate gesture on their own.” Because the students sought to understand Jack, they knew what they needed to do to honor him in a way that he appreciated.
Most of us sometimes feel like we know what’s best for us and others – our beliefs, our politics, and our perception of the world in general. But every so often, what we were confident in doing or saying turns out to be the wrong move. It’s when we shoot from the hip or just do what we’ve always done that we miss mark. In a world of doing what feels good or what is fastest and easiest, seeking to understand is an under-appreciated pursuit. In order to seek understanding of others, we must have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It is no small wonder that Paul wrote those exact words to the Colossians, saying, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Seek to understand; do not assume you know what is best. Today, resolve to seek understanding of what others value and need instead of assuming you know what is best for them.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12 NIV