It was the middle of the night. Literally. Everyone was asleep as I drove, hill over god-forsaken moonlit hill. I was fighting to stay awake myself. It had easily been the most difficult day of our #KindnessQuest road trip and I was relieved to be near our motel. But once we arrived, I fumed back out of their glass door without a place to sleep only minutes later. This is what prompted our most challenging random act of kindness, requiring me to girl-up and love my enemies during our #KindnessQuest 2.0.
Challenging #KindnessQuest Days (It’s Not All Roses)
Just in case you think your #KindnessQuest will always be a magical journey, I’ll warn you, it won’t be. Last year we spent the most horrible 24 hours stuck in Mount Shasta. This year it was our Yosemite day.
It started going topsy-turvy when we were hot, hungry, and couldn’t find food near Mono Lake. This included going to multiple closed joints, a few really expensive restaurants with massive lines of people, and sitting a spell starving at a table in a restaurant for about fifteen minutes before leaving without being waited on (we realized we would make it to Yosemite an hour or two late simply because that would be how long it would take us to get our food in the severely shortly-staffed BBQ joint).
We eventually ate a lunch of ice cream from the small community store and bought dry bread and an expensive pack of indistinguishable sandwich meats to take on the go. Then, unfortunately, my daughter started crying and whining, feeling sick going over the winding Sierra Nevada pass. That greatly distracted from the spectacular scenery and we had to keep stopping.
By the time we got into Yosemite Valley and tracked down the Visitor Center, it was closed (we were running a couple hours late at this point). Although the rest of our time there was great, a late night with crazy kids was stressful, there was no coffee stops to be found, and deep-breathing and prayers to not drive off a cliff with my over-tired family was the fuel that kept me going to my place of respite–a shower and bed at a hotel.
Abandoning a Protective Mama Makes Enemies
So what exactly happened? I already talked in depth about it in the below YouTube Video (or you can watch it on IGTV) so I will just give you the quick version here. When making reservations, although I submitted in my search for hotels that I had two adults and three kids, I was only offered one room (and didn’t want another–what am I going to do, put my Kindergartner by himself on the other side of the hotel?).
I’ve traveled accross the country and back both North to South to East to West multiple times without this ever being a problem. Yes, I realize official policies state there are four people to a double-occupancy room, but it has been such a non-issue I wasn’t prepared when the guy (who I am postive just wanted to try to get money off me) told me we couldn’t stay there (besides, I couldn’t afford two rooms either).
As I drove away, I realized we actually stayed at that exact same hotel last year with the same five people, in my same van, on our last #KindnessQuest. Go figure.
The result was, I felt abandoned as I debated what to do in a parking lot down the street. If I wasn’t so exhausted from multiple poor nights of sleep camping and driving, I probably would have kept trekking down the Five until I found a rest area or Walmart parking lot.
But thanks to my housemate’s phone and internet (mine wasn’t working) I was able to find another local hotel that had one room left and didn’t care we had five people who wanted to crash in it.
It was a little disconcerting to be almost “homeless” for the night. My family slept right through it, but even after I was dozing off in a comfy bed, I couldn’t get over it.
Deciding to Do My Most Challenging Random Act of Kindness
Yes, I was angry. I felt like the situation was pointless. I had felt scared, disappointed and protective of my rights (and kids). I didn’t think it was wrong for me to be angry, but I did wonder if the way I expressed my anger was wrong.
(After all, #KindnessQuest was written all over my van!)
I wanted to check myself to make sure I wasn’t a jerk. I wanted to be sure I was kind in my anger. And then I realized that the essence of kindness went beyond me not being an angry jerk. But if I was going to actually go on a quest for kindness and not be hypocritical about it, what mattered was how I would move forward.
I actually couldn’t just keep acting like the night shift manager was a jerk, putting him in the category of “enemy” because he obviously was against us, not for us. Sure, maybe he was trying to get more money off of me, but he also technically didn’t do anything unjust by the policy’s standards.
Also, for me, kindness means seeing someone as real, that they matter, recognize them as valuable. It requires us to get into someone else’s shoes and decide what might make them feel like they are worth something.
I had to go back.
Hating Doing Our Random Act of Kindness
So what did we do? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to deny my story–that the situation felt unjust. I could have, and sometimes laying down your rights means shutting-up. I didn’t think I needed to do that. But I did think I could say sorry in case I got too angsty at midnight when he told me I couldn’t stay. I didn’t think I was a jerk, but who knows?
So I wrote him a letter. I was honest. I said how the situation made me feel (ANGRY). But I also apologized in case I was mean and said I could see him as a person enforcing a policy. (I’ll upload pics later of it.)
We delivered in with candy.
Kindly Loving Your Enemies
You see, I was abandoned by my motel at midnight because of a policy which had never mattered before. I simply wanted to check to make sure I wasn’t a jerk, but I knew I needed to take it to the next level, to go out of my way to bless someone I felt the opposite of blessed by.
Sometimes being kind to those who aren’t kind to you requires you to grow in your love for others.
Ever found yourself in a situation where you chose to be kind to someone who wasn’t kind to you? Or someone you didn’t like or who hurt or oppressed you?
If so, tell me in the comments! Let me know I am not alone in this! (You can also download a free 45 Random Acts of Kindness guide)