Stories from the journey of fatherhood & brotherhood

Right or Kind?

conflict honesty kindness Jan 16, 2021

My eyes bulged with disbelief as the notary said, “I’m sorry, the mortgage company didn’t get the paperwork done in time. The closing is cancelled. They didn’t tell you about this?” 

I told him they most assuredly had not told me that. I apologized for bothering him and hung up the phone. My jugular pulsed disbelief and anger. 

Two months before that we began refinancing our home. A national mortgage company gave us a great rate and assured us we’d close before Christmas. I high fived my wife, thrilled we could save so much money by going through a simple process that was handled by professionals. Their timetable was a little off but nonetheless on December 30th we were set to close. 

As I waited for the notary to come to our house I took one last look at the closing disclosures. My eyes combed through the technical language and somehow tried to convince myself that people sign these documents all the time, and I was not getting conned by some legalese clause in the fine print that effectively transferred our house over to a hedge fund manager in Manhattan named Dante. 

I reached the closing summary and my eyes paused on the cash to close section. 

“Huh, that number is weird, “ I thought. Weird in this case serving as a synonym for $4,000 higher than expected.

I called our loan guy, certain he’d remember we were closing and could set things straight. Three emails, two voicemails, and 45 minutes later he called back as the notary was sitting down at our kitchen table. I expressed my frustration about the cash-to-closing mistake and his lack of communication. He apologized profusely and said not to sign and they’d get things fixed quickly. I tried to be gracious. After all this was a hectic time during the holidays and there were tons of the other people in the same boat taking advantage of the wildly low interest rates. Mistakes happen. 

But then a week went by with no communication from the mortgage company about where we stood in the process. My frustration got high enough that I bypassed my usual passive aggressive response, and went full-on Grinch mode and fired off a cranky email to six people at the mortgage company. Once again there was profuse apologizing and an offer to send a Starbucks gift card. 

Because you know, nothing makes up for horrendous communication like a few overpriced coffees. 

All that to say we were set to close a second time when I called the notary (as he was 15 minutes late) and he informed me the closing was cancelled, again. I leaned back against our kitchen counter, baffled and frustrated. I began silently rehearsing my scathing speech to our loan officer. It would be blunt, factual, and best of all I’d be completely justified in my anger. I had a right to tear into them. 

And then I remembered a friend’s words from a few years ago, 

“Often in disagreements we have the choice whether to be right, or to be kind.” 

I gave an internal eye roll that would shame the moodiest teenageer who got their phone taken away by their parents. Forget kindness, I want the wrong to be righted. I all but banged my fist against the counter and shouted, “So they just get out of jail free? Someone has to pay for this!”

Restoration Project CEO Chris Bruno (the same friend who wondered about being right or kind) is adamant that being kind and being nice are not the same. Kindness is actually the intersection of strength and tenderness - it requires the strength to offer truth, while doing so with the tenderness that recognizes God’s image present within the other. 

An hour later I spoke with our loan officer. I honestly named my frustration over the poor communication throughout the process, but I didn’t fly off the handle. He graciously apologized and agreed to help make things right through a discount on the loan. 

And just so there isn’t too tight a ribbon on this whole ‘right vs. kind’ issue, literally as I’m typing this, our tenant who is overdue on his rent just pulled up to our house. Truth be told I’ve been rehearsing my speech to him for several days, the question is what will I choose?

When have you chosen to be right versus kind? Who has extended you kindness recently?

Jesse French
Restoration Project Integrator



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