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Unintended Consequences

The toughest times can be the greatest gifts in disguise

People will remember what you did for a little while but they will remember how you made them feel forever.
People will remember what you did for a little while but they will remember how you made them feel forever.

In the fall of 2007, I went for a jog on a beautiful lake trail. While enjoying the run, a 40-foot pine tree fell directly across the running path, hitting me in the head. There was significant swelling in both sides of my brain as well as my brain stem. My spine was compacted resulting in damage to my low back. Thank God, I have regained almost all of my functioning. During my healing journey, so many people showed us an unfathomable amount of random acts of kindness.

For much of my adult life, I had been the one doing random acts of kindness for others; finding great reward in doing so. In the blink of an eye, we found ourselves in the unique and humbling experience of being on the other side of the giving. The random acts of kindness my family experienced were gracious and overwhelming.

People drove our children to a whole array of places and events, brought us meals, ran errands, helped us financially, offered prayers and so many other generous gifts. While each one of these was so very appreciated, two specific examples paint a clear picture of the impact of acts of kindness.

Injured and unable to do so much, it was a long and arduous journey. One person, in particular, offered a simple but impactful daily act of kindness. I didn’t know her well yet she sent me an email every day for months. Each email had an encouraging picture, word, or quote. She had gotten the idea to send the emails after experiencing them first-hand herself. From that time on, she began sending emails to people she knew needed encouragement or were going through a hard time. That continual daily encouragement made such an incredible impact in my healing.

As the person who was a giver, it was not easy to accept help from others. My husband’s standard answer was “We are fine. We don’t need anything”. The second act of kindness I want to share with you came from a person who refused to accept that answer.

At the time of my accident, I had met Carol but didn’t know her well. She reached out to my husband asking what we needed and what she could do to help. She was a small but tenacious woman. When my husband said we didn’t need anything she said, “Okay, let me know if you think of anything.” After well-wishes, she ended the call. Within a few hours, she was at our front door. She smiled and said, “I know you said that you don’t need anything. You have so much going on. You don’t need to spend the time cooking dinner tonight. Here it is”. Reaching her arm toward my husband, she handed him a picnic basket filled with the wonderful aroma of a delicious home-cooked meal. Over time, her calls got more direct, simply saying “I know you don’t need anything. So what time works for me to stop by with dinner. It’s almost ready now”. She continued to make dinner for us once a week for months.

After the first few weeks, she would come earlier in the day and stay with me for a while. Little did we know that she was going through a tough time also. Over time, she shared that it was inspiring to get to experience my attitude about my accident. Her gracious gift was such a blessing to us while also helping her through a rough time, unbeknownst to us.

Following those dinners and time spent together, we developed a deep friendship that would last for years. Our relationship was a treasured gift that all started with a random act of kindness. The ending of almost every conversation with Carol included her encouraging me to write a book of my journey and lessons learned, inspiring others as I did her. 

Random acts of kindness often are as much a gift to the giver as the receiver. From these two simple first-hand experiences, it is clear that random acts of kindness have far further reach and impact than either the giver or the receiver may comprehend. #RandomActsofKindness




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