A few days ago I came across a fascinating article shared by Nicole Phillips on Twitter. I’ll briefly summarize the story, but I hope you take the time to read the entire article here.
This true story recently took place at Severna Park United Methodist Church, located near Baltimore. An anonymous donor gave the church a stack of $100 bills totaling $10,000. The donor invited each congregant to take a $100 bill and go out into the community and use the money to perform acts of kindness.
The article goes on to describe many of the amazing good deeds that were done with the $100 bills. What I thought was especially inspiring about this story were the people who spoke of the excitement they felt while on the lookout for just the right person to bless. The gifts became a blessing not only for the recipients but also for the givers.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? I have, and I’ll tell you my story. One day last summer I had a ton of errands to run. By 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I still hadn’t taken time to eat lunch. Feeling hungry and tired, I swung into the drive-through lane at Dairy Queen and ordered a fish sandwich and ice cream. The line was moving excruciatingly slowly that afternoon, and I’ll admit I was becoming a bit impatient.
This all changed when I was finally able to pull up to the window, and the cashier told me the person in the car ahead of me paid for my meal. For a moment I felt bewildered. I’d heard of people paying it forward at restaurants, but somehow I never expected to be the recipient of this act of kindness. As I drove away, I realized my mood had completely changed, and I no longer felt tired and grumpy. I made a mental note to myself that I needed to pay it forward to someone else sometime in the future.
That opportunity finally came a few months later when a friend and I went out for supper. As we were eating our meal, two strangers caught my eye as they entered the restaurant. One was an elderly woman, and she was accompanied by a young man. A little voice told me that I should pay for their meal.
No, I didn’t actually hear an audible voice talking to me. I simply experienced that quiet whisper that prods us to do a good deed. Have you ever heard that whisper? I must confess that there have been times I’ve ignored this little voice, and I almost brushed it aside that day, too.
As my friend and I continued our meal, I couldn’t seem to shake the thought that I should pay for these strangers’ meals. Yet, I felt a bit uncomfortable about the situation. Would my friend think this was a strange thing to do? Would he think I was just trying to make a good impression?
We finished our meal, paid our bill, and prepared to leave the restaurant. The opportunity for this act of kindness seemed to be lost. But then my friend said he wanted to use the restroom before we left, and I knew this was my final chance. I called the waitress over and quietly gave her money to cover the strangers’ bill.
I’ll never know the end of this story. How did the people react when the waitress told them their bill was already paid? Why was I prodded to pay the bill for these particular strangers? Did these people ever pay it forward with another act of kindness?
These experiences have been on my mind a lot in recent days. I’m thinking about how the Christmas season seems to spark a spirit of generosity in our souls. But the beauty of the holiday soon passes and the long, cold winter looms ahead of us. Life returns to normal and we forget about the needs of others. I don’t want it to be like this in the new year. What if we start paying more attention to that quiet whisper that prompts us to help a stranger?
Most of us will never have $10,000 to give away like the anonymous donor at that Baltimore church. Yet, every one of us can do something. Many acts of kindness don’t even involve money. Imagine what our world could be like if everyone was constantly on the alert for an opportunity to bless a stranger. Will you join me in making this a part of your resolutions for 2018?
Finally, you can help your residents experience the joy of blessing others with acts of kindness, too. Check out my post from Make A Difference Day for ideas.
If you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of a random act of kindness I would love to hear your story. Please share in the comment section!
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