The Other Side of Kindness

Knoxville_FacebookEver since we returned from SE Asia, my husband and I have been working our butts off to make ends meet.  He, a full-time student and full-time bank teller.  Me, a stay-at-home mom with a part-time teaching job.  Times have been hard.  Cupboards have been bare.  But we have never felt richer.

In this post, reblogged from the awesome Knoxville Mom’s Blog, my friend Kristen puts so well what so many of us have experienced at one time or another in our lives.  Please enjoy, then visit her blog When at Home and show some love!

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By Kristen on December 18, 2013 

If I had a nickle for every charity that asked me for donations at Christmas time…well…I wouldn’t be writing this post right now.

The Christmas season seems to be the time where people are the most generous. Whether it be out of the goodness of our hearts, or just mindless change dropping into red buckets, most of us have donated something to one thing or another during the holidays. I’ll be honest. In the past, when I’ve seen a donation box, I didn’t really think about the people who would be benefiting from my spare change. And even worse, sometimes I find myself judging people who get themselves into situations where they would need to depend on other people. I’ve made assumptions and cast unfair judgment and thanked my lucky stars I wasn’t one of “those people.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who rarely thinks of the families and stories behind every donation.

This year, I’ve had a big (I mean, we’re talking like GIGANTIC) reality check. About a month after Emery (my 5 month old) was born, my husband lost two of his jobs and was left with the job that makes the least amount of income. We moved here in March naively thinking he’d find work fast and that it’d be smooth sailing. Instead, we’ve met incredible financial hardship and have learned to depend on the kindness of our friends, family, and more often than not … complete strangers.

It’s been such a humbling experience. At first I was totally embarrassed. Ashamed. Afraid to let anyone know we were struggling. But slowly people started finding out what we’re going through and we’ve been overwhelmed with the response. I thought people would be judgy and mean, but we’ve seen nothing but kindness and generosity. Our family and friends have been amazingly supportive, but it’s the strangers that really surprise me. People that I’ve never met, that know nothing about me or my family, have sent gifts to my children and provided for my family in sometimes small, sometimes big, practical ways. It’s overwhelming. There are no words to describe the emotions you experience when other people love on your kids. It’s incredible.

I never thought I’d find myself on the other side of kindness. I’ve always prided myself on being fiercely independent, but this situation has forced me to let go of my pride, take off my “I Got This” hat and let other people bless my family. The past 4 months have been hard and I’m a better person because of it. I’ve learned that every person has a story and a struggle. I find myself feeling much more compassionate towards people I probably would have considered myself better than and I’m definitely a lot slower to make assumptions these days. Mindless donations or not, know that your generosity, wherever you decide to place it, goes to real people. People like me. People with families who have just hit impossible times. I’m beyond ready for this season to be over, but so, SO thankful for what it’s meant to us.

When I look at this picture, I don’t just see my beautiful family laughing at my ridiculous kid on Thanksgiving. I see the outfits that were gifted to both of my sons and the scarf that I bought when a friend made me spend a gift card on myself. I’m reminded of the gift a blogger sent me to help contribute to my family’s Thanksgiving meal. I see my hard working husband on his only day off that week enjoying being with his kids and getting some much needed down time. But mostly, I see all the reasons our family works. Because we love each other. Because we’re loved. Because we don’t carry our burdens alone and because we’re choosing to focus on the amazing things that have happened this year, rather than the things that have been difficult.

The Other Side of Kindness

Every person has a story and every story has a face. I hope reading this inspires you to think about the families that are blessed and impacted by your generosity and the generosity of others. Know that when you give, you’re not just meeting a practical need for a faceless stranger. As much as I am thankful for the things we’ve been given, I’m even more thankful for the hope it’s given us and the joy it’s brought into our home.

Now about those nickels…

Kristen blogs unapologetically and authentically at When at Home and prides herself in being a voice for the haggard, tired, doesn’t-have-it-together-yet mom in all of us.

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