Unkindness – A true story

Monday, I shared a post on Mothering From Scratch on Kindness.

It seems only right that I share a true story about unkindness too.

(actually, this is one of those painful to share posts that i didn’t want to write.  but i have to.  honest.)

I am not always kind.   As I’ve previously observed, balancing a snarky sense of humor with kindness is a difficult feat.   Sometimes, what I intend to be funny comes out hurtful.

I am not always kind.  Sometimes, I’m just too busy and self centered to remember to take the effort to gentle my words and soften my tongue.

I am not always kind.  On rare instances, I’m flat out unkind.  No, make that UNKIND.  It deserves the emphasis.

Last week, unkindness happened.

It’a s long story that started about an hour after I submitted my guest post on kindness.   That’s when phone call one (of many) started with customer support.

(no, it doesn’t matter what company.  it doesn’t matter what the issue was.  you don’t care.  really.)

A day later, I was still exchanging phone calls and I was getting increasingly frustrated.  Given the facts that I knew, they were being unreasonable and I was being perfectly logical.

I finally managed to get handed off to a supervisor.  When he answered the phone, the first thing I said was

Do I need to drive up there and do your job for you?  Because clearly you don’t know how.

I proceeded to spend the next five minute raking the poor man over the coals.  I was outrageous.  I did everything but cuss.  My words were anything but kind.

Much to my shame, I even threatened him with social media.

Do I need to take to Twitter over this?  Do you think this will look good on Facebook?  Do you know I write a blog?

If I knew the man’s name I would write him an apology letter.

About five minutes into my tirade, I looked over at my children who were witnessing my outrageous behavior.   My sweet boys were clinging to each other, holding their hands over their ears.

My heart melted.

I stopped talking long enough to let the man speak.  It turns out he knew things I didn’t.  When I listened to him, I understood the problem from their perspective.

I listened.

He must have sensed the change.

In less than a minute, we came up with a mutually agreeable solution.   I didn’t blame him for getting off the call quickly after that.

Unkindness has a cost.

For the rest of the day, there was a shadow in my home.

(who am i kidding? there was a shadow for several days.)

Physically, I was ill.  I wanted to throw up.  I settled on a walk up and down our street followed by a shower.

Spiritually, I was not at peace.  I had lost control of my tongue and done harm.  I was also, at least for a brief time, unrepentant.  As I related the story to my husband, I alternated between bragging about my outrageous (but creative) statements and sharing my horror and shame.

Emotionally, I was a train wreck.  It had been years since I’d been such an outrageous and out of control queen B.  I thought I’d grown beyond such displays.  It was humbling to discover that I still could behave that way.

Unkindness has a cost.

My children witnessed me at my worst.  They saw me when I was out of control and hurtful.

It took time for that to heal.

I would give anything to have not let them see me that way.  But they did.

Redemption.

It started with me being fully repentant and accepting God’s Grace and forgiveness.  It was only then that I finally lost that “I want to throw up” feeling.

I could then approach my children with a gentle tongue and seek their forgiveness.   It was short and sweet and filled with hugs.

After that, the shadow left my home.

Remember how I closed the post on Monday?

I’ve never said words of kindness that I regretted later.

They bear repeating.

ephesians 4_29

Father, give me a gentle tongue. Let no corrupting talk come out of my mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Fill my mouth with kind words and gracious thoughts.   Amen.

 

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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Comments

  1. Susan, I can certainly relate. I fought with a company multiple times last week over phone/internet issues. After making me wait 4 days, they sent a repairman out who, in a matter of minutes, made the problem worse and then left. When I called the next day, they scheduled a service call for 4 days out. I expressed my dissatisfaction multiple times but without the results I hoped for. When another technician came yesterday, 8 days after the problem began, he asked me what was going on. And I told him. He said: “You’re not mad at me, are you?” I felt really bad. I assured him that I wasn’t and that I was glad he was there. But I was kicking myself through the whole process for not being calmer. The way I handled the situation, by being upset and angry, literally accomplished nothing but upset me. I wish I could do it over. I would still fight for them to do the right thing but I would do it in a calmer manner. Fortunately my kids weren’t watching me like yours were. But my kids have seen me do that in the past. I was talking to the water department once and just lost it (no cussing, though). It was like I could hear myself spouting nonsense but couldn’t stop me. My daughter quietly went upstairs. After I ended the call, I went up and apologized.

    All that to say I sure do understand! Wouldn’t you like to have a muzzle sometimes?

  2. Melinda Stanton says:

    Ugh, this one hurt. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • It hurt to write, but it was important. Losing control of the tongue is such a common challenge, I don’t want anyone to feel alone. But I didn’t want to gloss over the consequences either. Make sense?

  3. Lindy Futch Russell says:

    Perfect timing.

  4. I have suffered rogue rage before.

    My worst incident involved me going off on an email I was forwarding to my husband about the email author’s suggestion. I was beyond rude!

    As soon as I hit “send” I realized that I had not forwarded. No. I had responded. Pass out.

    Worse, it was a sweet and gracious relative.

    When I asked for forgiveness, she willingly forgave.

    I still have a shadow, though, over 10 years later.

    Thanks for sharing your recent venture in unkindness. I can relate.

    • Oh Amy! I would have crawled in a hole and pulled the dirt in over me.

      I can see myself doing that exact thing. Ouch.

      So thankful she was gracious enough to forgive. Grace and kindness really are a salve to heal wounds- even the self inflicted ones.

      Thanks for sharing! Love the phrase “rogue rage.@

  5. Sheila Kathleen Burton says:

    This is something we all need to remember. None of us is immune from behaving badly unless we are consciously trying to be kind. That's why the Savior told us we must watch and pray lest we fall into temptation. That's why every morning on my way to work I always ask the Lord to help me watch and guard my tongue. It is way too easy to forget.

  6. A beautiful reminder in every way Susan. It is hard in those moments to forgive ourselves, but we must in order to move on and learn for the next time. Hugs.-Ashley

  7. We all have bad days when we act out of character but it must have been so tough to see the result on the faces of your children. Thank you for your honesty in telling your story. Ultimately your children learned an important and positive lesson when you went to them for forgiveness. Well done!

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