While standing on line at the Dollar Tree this afternoon, there was a young couple checking out that were obviously doing their grocery shopping. They were watching the items go into the bags one at a time and the girl was counting them. The two of them were debating whether they had this amount or that amount of money in the bank. She started worrying that they were going to run out of money so she asked the cashier to remove an item. He said "But it's only a dollar." She responded with a smile, "I know but I don't have the dollar."
Annoyed at the cashier I opened my wallet and pulled out $5. I leaned over and handed it to the girl and said "Will this be enough to get you what you need?" She was shocked but thanked me profusely as did her companion. I just smiled and stepped back to my spot in line pleased that I could do a little something to help someone else. I don't often have money in my wallet and I run a pretty tight budget of my own but the two things I can not stand are people not having food and children not having gifts on Christmas. I honestly didn't think anything of it until my youngest son asked me what I had just done. I started to explain that I had given the girl a little money to help with her groceries when the lady next to us interrupted me and told my son "Your momma was being Jesus today. If you want to know what He looks like, just look at her."
She made me cry. Her words humbled me in a way I simply cannot describe. I did not feel holy and my intentions were not all that just. I just wanted to help a fellow human being and maybe showing my kids a little act of kindness in hopes that one day they might do the same for someone. Children learn by example, right? The woman and I chatted a moment and I discovered she was the daughter of a local pastor before she paid for her purchases and we said our goodbyes. As the boys and I loaded our purchases into the trunk of our little car, the couple found us in the parking lot. The young man said "God Bless You" with tears in his eyes and the girl just kept saying thank you. I smiled and simply replied, "Just pay it forward one day when you can." They assured me they would and you know, I believe them.
One the way to our next errand, one of the kids asked me what "pay it forward" meant. I explained that if someone does something nice for you then you do something nice for someone else and they will hopefully do something for someone else and then eventually you have a whole world of people being kind to each other. They seemed enamored by the idea.
Imagine if every person in this country did one nice thing for someone else tomorrow. The next day those folks would pay it forward and pretty soon instead of evil and unrest we might be surrounded by kindness and love.
Please understand that my initial action of giving them the money was not something I had thought through or planned to do it just hit me that it was the right thing to do. I had no idea that anyone would think anything of it. Really. On my home tonight I kept thinking, "It was only $5." Then I remembered a couple of years ago, around this time of year actually when I was at the supermarket. My two boys were in a tae kwon do class and I was in the store trying to squeeze in some grocery shopping with my fussy one year old nephew whom I was babysitting sat in the cart. I had worked all day and even now I remember how exhausted and stressed I was. The woman in front of me was buying a bottle of wine. She paid for it and then turned to me, handed me the bottle and said, "I think you need this more than I do." She was gone in a flash and I barely got to say thank you but I the gift was something I will never forget. A simple $8 bottle of wine changed my outlook because it reminded that the world was still good and people still care about each other.
I have felt so blessed lately with so many people in my life that love and support me. My dream of being a published writer is being realized, my boys are becoming amazing young men and I have the sort of husband every woman should have. I don't make much money and the house needs a little work but I have a home and food to eat and there will be gifts under the Christmas tree. Our cars aren't fabulous but they start up every day and I do have a sunroof to enjoy the warm southern sun. It is time for me to really start paying attention to the little things in life because those are the things that truly matter.
I would like to offer up one of my challenges to my readers. Find one person that you can do one kind thing for tomorrow. It doesn't matter who or what you do- offer a smile to someone who looks sad or angry, buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you or leave the good parking space for the mother with the two babies. I promise you it will mean something to someone and this world will be just that much brighter for a few seconds.