Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unforgotten Kindnesses

In eighth grade I stood alone in the schoolyard every morning, a book my best friend, as I waited for the morning bell. I was a new student and not bold enough, or maybe not interested enough, in making friends.

Despite that, two students invited me to join their little circle of friends. I still stood on the outskirts of that circle, reading my book, rarely joining in conversation, yet their kindness touched some deep part of me. They became my best friends until I moved away.

At the ACFW conference I wasn't a disinterested stranger. From the moment I arrived, I met people I knew. Talked incessantly and smiled always. The night of the awards banquet was different. I showed up late and entered a packed room. Saw no one I knew well enough to sit with. And for the first time, I felt alone. I made my way through tables, scanning for someone I knew, wishing I would've hurried and feeling a strange sense of deja vu.

Then I heard my name.

Katie Ganshert was calling my name. She and other bloggers had saved me a seat.

I rushed toward her, not alone, so relieved I felt like crying.

These are two instances of kindness that might seem small to someone else, but to me, they'll never be forgotten.

What was the last kindness you showed? Have your characters experienced a kindness that changed their life?

31 comments:

patti said...

Oh, goodness, with the Holy Spirit helping me, I hope to do things like this all the time!

But hey, they WANTED to be seen with someone like you! Don't give them so much credit1!!! LOL

Have a great one!
Patti

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Patti, You're too funny. :-)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is beautiful in so many ways.

Jennifer Shirk said...

That was SO sweet of them!

Amy DeTrempe said...

Wow, something to think about. I am sure I have done something nice, I just can't think of what it would be. Hmmmm. A few of my characters have experience a kindness that changed their life.

Jessica Nelson said...

Thanks Caroline. These moments are really dear to me and I don't think the people who made them happen realize how much they meant. :-)

Jennifer, I KNOW!!! I need to work on being the kind of person that makes others feel welcome like they've made me feel.

Jessica Nelson said...

Amy, I'm sure you have too. Sometimes we don't realize how we touch others.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Aww, what a sweet story. Makes me love Katie that much more. Cuz I know how great you are in real life, and someone should ALWAYS save a seat for you.

Julie Jarnagin said...

What a great story!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh, that is so sweet! I love it when little kindnesses go such a long way. It is usually the quiet, sweet kindnesses that you remember the longest. Thank you for sharing this!

anita said...

Oh, what a beautiful post! I nearly cried reading it!

I can't remember a recent instance when I stopped to show a kindness, but I hope that's because kindness has become part of my everyday regime without me wittingly setting out to do it. Does that make sense? I strive to be consistently kind. That's my aspiration. ;-)

As for my characters, in the last historical love story I wrote, my hero sold a very special keepsake and gave the money to the heroine so she could keep her nieces and her estate. He expected nothing in return and was prepared to walk out of her life like she had insisted he do. But that kindness eventually broke through the shell she'd built around her heart and brought them together. That just goes to show that by being kind without expectations, you might be rewarded in ways you never dreamed. :-)

Linda Glaz said...

Awww, where were you? I thought you were with your crit friends that I saw you with at lunch. Now, I feel so bad. Would have been fun to enjoy that together. I was in Aloneland, too. But glad it worked out for you.

Erica Vetsch said...

Didn't we have a good time that night? I was so happy to have you and Katie and Jeannie and Krista...oh, man, I know I'm forgetting someone!

Patti said...

I hate entering a room where I don't know anyone, thank heavens for friends.

Sherrinda said...

That sounds like something Katie would do. I sure wish I could go to the conference this year! Hopefully next year. I'm going to start putting away once we get through our house sale mess.

Yay for the kindness of God through his lovely children!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Oh, I like this post a lot (but then I always like your posts).

One of my characters reaches out to her sister-in-law, who isn't the easiest person to be around. She buys some of her favorite foods and invites her to lunch.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Hooray for blogging friends! Glad you got a primo seat at the banquet. :-)

kathy taylor said...

I was grocery shopping last week & Kashi cereal was on sale, so I decided to grab two boxes. A lady saw me, and she gave me two coupons, making the stuff almost free. She was putting money in my hand with those coupons. These days, it's important to save a few dollars.

Great story, Jessica. I don't know a soul at ACFW & I'm a little intimidated already.

Kelly Freestone said...

oh my gosh.
I can imagine that!
I'm the one who instantly feels as though I'm going to run out of the building if I don't have someone to sit with...so I can certainly understand.

That was ver special for them to do such a kind thing for you.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

It's the small kindnesses that people do for me that I remember the most!

When I was a single mom and living in poverty with two sons, a woman I never met before, put a $20 bill in my hand while we both waited in line at the post office. She smiled at me and said, "God told me to do this." And then she walked away. I can remember this day from over 30 years ago like it just happened and thank God for that lady!

Janna Qualman said...

Jessica, that's wonderful. Moments like those, so seemingly small, can be so realistically big.

Thanks for sharing this.

Jolene Perry said...

Thanks for that. I think we often forget how much power we have to help those around us with the simplest of things.

Deb Shucka said...

Isn't it amazing that we never outgrow that need to belong, to be included and wanted. And how much power kindness of any kind has. This is a great post.

Jessica Nelson said...

Karen, that's such a sweet thing for you to say. :-)

Anita, I agree with your comment! That's how I'd like to live too.

Linda, I didn't realize you were alone. :-( Since you left before me I assumed you had people you were meeting... I'm sorry you were alone. :-(

Jessica Nelson said...

Erica, it was awesome!!! I know there were two ladies to my right but I didn't really know who they were...Eileen Astels Watson was at our table too. :-)

Sherrinda, maybe I'll see you there next year? I hope!

Thank you all for your comments and sharing such touching stories, or commiserating. :-)

Angie Muresan said...

That is so sweet of them, and I know exactly what it feels like to be an outsider. That's why I make kindness and compassion part of my daily life.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Yay on that sweet blogger. Nobody likes to feel like the odd man out, especially in a crowd where you feel everyone is staring at you!

Jessica Nelson said...

Exactly Angie L! I saw Rachelle Gardner reposted something of yours. Too cool! :-)

Angie M, I hope I do that too.

Stephanie Faris said...

I remember in high school, one of my biggest fears about the first day of school was that I'd walk into my classrooms and none of my friends would be in class with me. It's that sinking feeling of being completely out of your comfort zone. I was always fine once that first day was over...and of course you'd always end up befriending the people who sat around you, even if they weren't in your circle. Even if they were more popular than you. I think it's just the unknown.

denise petrovich said...

The stories did make me cry. I am so sorry you have ever had to feel alone!!!! I love that you had great friends who reached out to you. I hope to always do that. Hopefully putting others needs first. Love Mom

Nancy said...

A grandma reaches out to a little girl in my last story.

Your stories about kindnesses were very encouraging. I hope I'm that person for someone else.