A few years ago, my friend John was driving his brand new minivan when someone barreled into him.
John’s first reaction was anger, but before he even let go of the steering wheel, something else took over: compassion.
Somehow, John knew the man in the truck who had just hit him was hurting. Emotionally hurting.
Instead of getting out of that shiny, now-dented, minivan, stomping over to the other driver and screaming, “What were you thinking?” John simply got out of his truck, walked over to the man and said, “Are you OK? What’s going on with you?”
The man replied, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t even be driving. I buried my wife yesterday.”
John took the man aside. “This accident is nothing compared to what you are going through. Can I pray for you?”
The two men had a long, meaningful conversation, and both left with more peace than before the accident.
Now, when John gets into his minivan, he remembers the day when anger and accusations were erased by kindness and understanding.
Tracie Overmoe of Moorhead sent me the following letter, explaining how kindness showed up at the scene of her accident, too.
“Nicole, I was waiting to merge into traffic and was suddenly rear-ended. The driver of the other vehicle immediately apologized and admitted it was his fault. I was not hurt but very sore and shook up.
“The driver gave my husband his card and told him to get me a rental car and charge it to him instead of waiting for the insurance. I thought that was odd and wondered if he would really cover the cost. He did.
“God has a funny way of providing for us at times. We had been having some engine problems with our old car, and things were very tight financially. We were limping by hoping our vehicle would hold out until we could get a new one. Since the car was totaled in the accident, we were able to use the insurance money to get a different one.
“A few weeks after the accident, I got a letter in the mail from the other driver. It was a very kind letter of apology and included a generous gift card to a very nice restaurant in downtown Fargo and two movie tickets with popcorn. I had opened the letter in my driveway that morning and was in tears as I read his words and saw his generous gift.
“This was so unexpected and so out of character for how most people would act in a similar situation. I still get choked up when I think about this man’s selfless generosity.
“I hope someday I can pay this forward to someone, not in a car accident, but just by doing something so unexpected, so kind, that comes at a perfect time in someone’s life to provide the same kind of humble joy we have experienced.”
Thank you, John and Tracie, for allowing me to share your stories. Every once in a while, we need to make a snap decision. Will we give in to the emotions that so desperately want to come spewing from our bodies, or will we stop, take a breath and choose to walk in kindness?
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.