Small kindnesses

Fiona Robyn of Writing Our Way Home has organized a blogsplash for today to share stories of small kindness and the impact they’ve had on their lives from people around the world. The blogsplash is being held in honor of Fiona’s book Small Kindnesses, which is available free on Kindle today.

Her novel is a gentle story of a widower who discovers that his late wife had kept secrets from him throughout their marriage. As he pursues the mystery of her secrets, he both gives and receives many small kindnesses that have an important impact on his life and on those around him.

Reading her book (which I highly recommend, by the way) got me thinking about the many ways my life has been changed and enriched by small kindnesses shown to me over the years. As I have thought about what small kindness I would highlight in my contribution to the blogsplash tonight, I have found that my thoughts keep gravitating to those acts of kindness when people have demonstrated their confidence in me. These small kindnesses have repeatedly had profound impacts much larger than would seem likely on the surface.

The one person in my life who has consistently treated me with an abundance of kindness and demonstrated confidence in me time and again is my dad. My dad, like many men of his generation, is not big on showing or talking about emotions. His way of showing kindness is often in acts of physical or financial assistance or through small gestures that mean more than they seem.

One example that comes to mind happened more than twenty years ago now, but I’ve never forgotten it. I had married in my teens (against his advice), and at 22 I found myself getting divorced. Although I was a much braver and more confident person then than I am now, this was still a traumatic experience. It shook up many of my ideas about myself, about God, about how life was supposed to work. And it left me homeless for several weeks as I bounced around between the apartments of different friends while trying to find a new place to live. I was scared and shaken and grieving.

Not only did my dad never once say “I told you so” (which must have taken real fortitude!), he also came to my rescue with material assistance in the form of some old furniture that had belonged to his mother (whose house he was cleaning out as she entered a nursing home) and a used car. But the small kindness that I remember most was that for several months during that time, he reverted to calling me by a childhood nickname he had used for me: Tiger.

Every time he’d call me Tiger, it would remind me that he believed I was strong enough to get through this, without him ever having to say a word. In fact, the fact that he never expressly commented on his belief in me made his confidence in me feel even more powerful because he did not even acknowledge that there was any doubt to be had. And knowing that he believed in me helped me to believe in myself.

After I got back on my feet and things stabilized, he has never used that nickname again. But it was enough that he’d used it when I most needed it. Even now when I’m feeling small and scared and uncertain, I remember him calling me that, and it puts me back in touch with my sense of inner power.

What small kindnesses have you experienced in your life? Read about more heartwarming small kindness moments at the other blogs participating in the blogsplash today.

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