I once read about the purpose of God's kindness.
Have you ever received kindness you know you didn't "deserve"?
I'll never forget the day my best friend said, "TJ, I've been praying about it. I'm sending you $15,000. There's no expectation of anything in return. I just know you're not meant to go back to work on Wall Street. You're meant to go do something that changes the world. I don't know what it is. I don't know what you'll do. But I believe in you. It'll be in your bank account tomorrow. Is that going to be enough?"
Now, let me share the context for that conversation...
I was now broke, without a job, and quite clueless as to what I was going to do about all the above. Plus, my dad had just been diagnosed with stage four cancer. Ouch.
Having voluntarily left my job (and a promotion) less than 14 months earlier, I thought I had more than enough saved to avoid the "worst case" scenario (i.e., going broke). Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. And, as I found out, my "worst case scenario" was far better than the situation I found myself in...
Sometimes things don't always go as planned.
Despite the fact that I'd saved $100,000, and made an additional $30,000 trading Bank of America stock options, I'd somehow managed to lose all of it (and then some) over the course of six-months. If I was gambling in the stock market...the house wiped me out.
So there I was, on Skype, in tears, sharing the story with my friend.
The odd thing is I didn't ask for money, though it was obviously on my mind. He just offered without expectation of anything in return...despite knowing how irresponsible I'd been with my own hard earned money.
To be honest, it's hard to receive that kind of kindness - the "undeserved" kindness. Even when you're broke! Inside I didn't feel like I deserved anything but "punishment" for allowing myself get to that point. The inner voice was telling me how "I couldn't trust myself", and "I'd lost all self-respect, and self-control". If you've ever been in that head space, then you know that's a tough place to escape...
The good news is I didn't have to "escape" on my own. And I'm glad I had help. I still question if I had the strength to do it by myself.
The point is this: Acts of "undeserved" kindness aren't meant to excuse poor behavior. They're meant to create an opportunity for a change.
When we're in a tough spot, most of us try to "figure it out" on our own. But the problem with that is we lose the chance to let the problem become known. When the problem isn't known, it's easy to hide. And if we continue to hide - whatever it is - we risk not making the change inside.
The lesson learned, in this specific example, was that I could be trusted again. It would have been hard to learn that same lesson if someone would have scolded me for my irresponsibility. Again, it didn't excuse my poor management of money, but now, because of "undeserved kindness", I had healthy accountability. And that's a great way to make change happen.
Today I can say money no longer has the same grip on me. I regularly have open conversations about it, and my financial outlook continues to improve rapidly.
So, the next opportunity, I encourage you to offer someone "undeserved” kindness. They might surprise you.