My friend Kelly Nickerson joins us today to share how during times of tremendous grief the kindness of friends, family, and even strangers helped her change her heart and embrace the kindness extended.
by Kelly Nickerson
I love cherries! If I get another tattoo it will be a pair of cherries. My favorite is the Montmorency bright red cherries, the kind you bake in a pie. I actually take cherry juice at night before bedtime to help me sleep better. They aren’t just bright and beautiful, to me cherries are kind.
That got me thinking about, “The Fruit of the Spirit.” I imagine each gift to be accompanied with a real fruit, and to me the cherry would be the “kind fruit.” I love that they come in pairs (often like kindness and gentleness); they are sweet, tart, and so good for the body.
I haven’t always been into kindness. Sadly, growing up I lived in selfishness, fear, anger, and bitterness. It was a tree no one wanted to eat from, and it was toxic to everyone it touched.
I had my first real encounter with kindness after our first born, a daughter, died. Day after day, strangers from our church made sure to bring meals and check in on us while we grieved.
It was baffling to me why they would take time out of their day to do something for someone they didn’t know. Most times I couldn’t even answer the door. It wasn’t just the grief; I also found it hard to receive something I didn’t know how to give.
As our journey went on, we found out our second born, a son, would have the same fate as our daughter. Out of desperation I slowly opened the door to my heart to let others into our space to pray and care for us. I had fallen so deep into depression with the loss of our daughter that I knew if I didn’t accept the kindness of others, I would die of a broken heart.
This time, when our son died, it was different. Our friends, family, and even strangers reached out to us in ways I still can’t fully comprehend. Some paid for food, rent, bills, and even his burial. You can’t go through something like that and not be moved.
Just when I thought people couldn’t get nicer, I got chronically sick. It had been a long road and with two small children, I was panicking. Each day, the good Lord sent people to help babysit, mow our grass, feed us, and pray anytime we needed it.
While our journey has been so hard, G-d had sent kind people all along the way to help us make it through those treacherous years. The best part is that each kind act changed my heart. I remember being so sick and promising G-d that if he spared me I would be sure to get out of my comfort zone and spread his kindness.
It’s my turn to give now, and I have to say it is just what the doctor ordered! Forget skydiving, bungee jumping, or getting your nose pierced (Okay, so that one I am still debating.) I find kindness is my adrenaline rush.
If you are like me, you might be overthinking this and wondering what does kindness look like? I have found kindness starts off with the simple things, like asking someone how their day was and really listening. Smiling at the person in the grocery store that looks downtrodden. Dropping off a treat to someone you know is having a hard time (My favorite is the ding-dong-ditch drop off.). Mowing the lawn or shoveling the walkway for a neighbor who is struggling.
Texting a message is good, but I have found that can keep my kindness at bay. Setting time aside to talk in person with those who need to express their feelings is priceless. I have found that when I am down or frustrated instead of wallowing in my anger, I am intentionally seeking out ways that I can help someone else out. It helps me let go of my self-focus and keep the love going. What used to be a struggle to do has become like breathing.
Cherries are not only good for you, but they cut down on silent inflammation in our bodies. I like to think that kindness does the same. Anytime I am on the giving or receiving end of kindness, I know that it quiets down the irritation that is rising up in my soul.
I challenge you today to reach out to people in need this week. Set a goal to take time out of your day to bring a smile to someone’s face and see how you feel. I bet you will find it is the sweetest medicine you have ever taken.
Kelly Nickerson is a homeschooling mama with two beautiful kids under her wing and four dancing in heaven. She also lives with her amazing husband, who supports her like no other. Kelly is a firecracker prayer warrior who shares honestly about her brokenness, while praising and clinging to the G-d who sustains her. When she isn’t hunting down germs with disinfectant, you can find her writing of her adventures at kellynickerson.com.