30 Days of Kindness Challenge: Not Always Easy, but Always Worth It

Sometimes it’s the dirty little things.  You know, like taking out the trash.  As I drove up the driveway, I saw that Jen had already moved the trash out to the curb.  To give you a little background, taking out the trash is my job and she did it for me. Maybe it was because I had been sick all week.  Maybe she felt like surprising me.  Honestly, it didn’t matter why she did it.  Jen made me smile.  It was a completely unexpected, unrequested act of kindness from Jen.

Here at The {K}not Project, we’re getting to the end of the Kindness Challenge.  It’s been a “challenge” to keep up with, that’s for sure, which is a strange thing to admit.  It should be easy, really second nature, to be kind to those we love, but as I’ve begun to discover, that is not the case. Why?

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Expectations: A Kindness Killer

Expectations: A Kindness Killer

All last week, God's whisper of a voice was nagging me. Give up the expectations. Give up the expectations. Give up the expectations.

I shushed Him. I kept plowing on. Things needed to be done. You know—

People have needs.

The laundry needs to be done.

Deadlines need to be met.

Meetings need to be attended. 

The house needs  to be clean.

The kids need to do their homework.

We need to eat healthy meals.

The needs were the priority and they needed to be satisfied. I needed to be satisfied. And the only way I would be is if all these things got done—impeccably and on time.

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When You're Spouse is Being a Nightmare (new video)

When You're Spouse is Being a Nightmare (new video)

This week's video is no joke. I (Jen) was unable to find my way back to kindness. I was locked inside these old patterns of behavior, trying to please every single person around me—with the exception of Craig. At almost every turn, I felt so much like the apostle Paul when he wrote in Romans 7:15:

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.

At the end of the week, sitting in church today, the guest pastor summed it up so well, which we will tell you more about this week on the blog. For now, here's how Craig dealt with me and how his response to my craziness and ugliness helped me get back on the right path, headed in a much better direction.

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What a Tree Can Teach You about Kindness

What a Tree Can Teach You about Kindness

On Monday, Craig stayed home from work and through the morning, I still found myself bitter. Poor guy. HE'S SICK and I can't seem to muster up the compassion I know I should have and should be showing.

Part of the problem is that on Saturday, we spent all day working in the garden. Craig helped me. All day. But instead of resting in that gratitude for the day he was able to help, instead I grew resentful of the fact that we still had so much to do (inside and outside) and now, I would be completing all these tasks by myself.

I could have done the sane thing and adjusted the amount of items reasonably achievable by one person. But when I get in my "uber-productive" mode, I lose some section of my brain entitled "Rational thought." Words such as EFFICIENCY! PRODUCTIVITY! ORGANIZATION! ORDER! play through my brain on repeat. And anything (anyone?) that tries to disrupt my work? The image of Alice and Wonderland's Queen of Hearts passes through my mind.

Sad.

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What Chokes Out Kindness

What Chokes Out Kindness

We spent our Spring Break vacation at Disney World, which means we really need another vacation to recover from this one! We had tons of fun! Who knew that we could go for 18 hours, take a 4 hour "night nap" and hit the next park by the 9am opening time? (Now you see why we need the extra vacation!)

Craig and I went into this trip with this question: Will it be easier or harder to show kindness while on vacation? Watch the video to find out our conclusion!

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One Reason Why It's Hard to Be (Authentically) Kind

One Reason Why It's Hard to Be (Authentically) Kind

The more grace I see I need, the more grace I am able to extend. The more I allow myself to be loved and cared for, the more I am able to genuinely love and care for others.

I am wondering: Could this be true for kindness, too? If I don't believe I should be kind to myself, am I able to, with no strings attached, be kind to others? If I don't practice treating myself with kindness, do I really believe that being kind to others is truly valuable? Am I kind because I genuinely want to be, instead of just because the Bible tells me to be or because it's the "right thing to do?"

So much of these questions are rooted in my struggles about my worth. If I give into the lie that my worth is based on my work, it will be very difficult for me to devote time to be kind to myself. If self-kindness becomes a rewards-based system, I run the risk of telling myself I didn't do well enough or give enough to really deserve it. I will then just keep pushing myself, relentlessly. And if I believe that kindness must be meted out, weighed on an invisible scale, am I ever able to give to others freely? Without secretly keeping a record of my goodness or expecting something in return?

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Kindness Challenge Week 1 & "Complaint" vs. "Criticism"

In this week's video, we talk about how kindness doesn't have to be hugely sacrificial, nor does it have to present itself with great extravagance. We're sharing some of our own acts of kindness...and how we knew our partner would appreciate them. We're also talking about "complaint" vs. "criticism." You're right—we're not supposed to be complaining OR criticizing our spouse this month, but chances are even though we aren't saying things, we're probably still thinking them. Watch the video below and then hop down for some definitions and idea on how you can figure out if you're complaining or criticizing.

(Knot Project note about Gottman's book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: We don't love the term complaining. Instead of complaining, as noted in the video, we use the term "feedback." Giving feedback to our spouse doesn't need to register in our heads as something like, "Oh, he's just complaining." That makes what our spouse is saying seem or feel less valid.)

Gottman's characteristics of complaint (or constructive feedback)

  • Focuses on specific behavior.
  • Has three parts: 1) Here's how I feel; 2) About a very specific situation; 3) Here's what I want/need/prefer

Gottman's characteristics of criticism

  • Global in scope.
  • Expresses feelings/opinions about the other's character or personality
  • Often contain the words "always" and/or "never."

Sometimes, we don't even realize what we're saying when we're in a (heated) disagreement. This period of 30 days is for obtaining from saying negative things, but when negative thoughts arise, we encourage you to write them down in a journal or notebook. After a few days, come back to the thoughts you scribed. Evaluate your words: Are you giving constructive feedback (voicing a legitimate complaint) or are you attacking the very character of your spouse? 

Don't worry if you realize you're criticizing—Gottman says this is a very common issue. But spend some time re-writing and re-framing what you would say so that you can begin to practice healthy communication.


 

Did you know The {K}not Project is on Pinterest? Here you can find articles and videos from our series (past and present). You can also find resources to help with addictions and prayer.

(Yes, it's still a work in progress, but, hey, what isn't??)


The Kindness Challenge

The Kindness Challenge

On Monday, we talked about some stress strategies we use when life gets busy, complicated, and over-scheduled. Often, even if our lives are filled with good things—God-ordained things—we can still find ourselves frayed at the edges when we don't allow space for other God-ordained things, like rest and fun.

It was in my quiet time when God showed me that I needed to not be consumed by what I need in the moment. This self-focus seems only to grow bitterness and resentment when Craig doesn't meet those needs. It's easy for Craig to fall in the same trap.

God showed me that if we could simply take a breath and turn our eyes outward, if we could remember that God joined us together as a team, perhaps we could consider that, though we are frayed, we can mend each other, that God might give us the capacity to be filled as we fill.

It's a team. One team. So what you do to the benefit to the team, you naturally reap the benefit as a member of that team.

I'm sure, not coincidently, this is why we happened upon the Kindness Challenge created by Shaunti Feldhan. In her research, she found that 89% of relationships who took on this challenge saw improvement.

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