A post by Amber West started the ball rolling, suggesting we go without that something extra for a week (such as Starbuck’s, eating out, movies, etc.) and instead putting that money towards a greater cause (such as St. Jude’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen For The Cure).
That was followed by another blog by Barbara McDowell about random kindness with giving our time and effort. It hit a soft spot in me and moved me to comment on her blog, sharing a story of something that happened to me earlier that evening. Or, should I say, to me and another person in my town.
A cashier at the local grocery store to be exact.
As this cashier was ringing up my purchases, I noticed that she looked like she was about to cry. I asked if she was all right and her response was a little mumbled, so I didn’t hear what she said. Of course, now the poor cashier was the center of attention as the others in line waited to see what happened, and rather than embarrass her, I just let it drop. After she scanned my Dark Chocolate Mounds candy bar, I picked it up and offered it to her, telling her that the chocolate would make her feel better. After a bit of hesitation, she agreed, but she still looked bummed out. So, after the groceries were stashed in the cart, I walked around to where she stood and pulled her into a hug – and she returned it whole-heartedly, like she really, really needed it.
And you know what? I needed it, too. Offering the only thing I had at that particular moment – human contact and love – to someone who obviously needed it, ironically filled me up, instead of depleting my energy. And I think we parted ways feeling pretty good.
It happens that way. The act of giving one’s self, time, energy, money – when given freely, it only grows. A kind word, a meaningful touch, or an encouraging smile, is sometimes all it takes to keep another person’s head above the muck just long enough for them to reach for a thread of hope.
I’ll never forget an incident many, many moons ago, when I was on the receiving end of such generosity.
When my boys were still very young, I was in a grocery store parking lot (what is it about grocery stores??), in a major downpour, trying to get the boys in their car seats before loading the groceries into the back of my car. I was making a quick rundown of everything I had bought, thinking to first grab the things that would be ruined by the rain. Before I had gotten through that list, a woman had approached and started loading my groceries into my car really, really fast, before pushing her own rain-soaked grocery cart towards her car several spaces down. I think I put one bag in my car to her five. Yeah, she was quick. When she was done, she had never looked back and never said a word.
I didn’t get a chance to thank her. I really wish I had.
It’s those little things we do for others – like holding doors open, picking up something that was dropped – that shows others that we are in tune with our surroundings, intently aware of them and what they might need at that moment. What a gift to give. It shows others that they are worthy of our time and effort. And who doesn’t love feeling worthy?
And that lady in the parking lot that helped me so many years ago?
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
How about you? Are you compelled to offer random acts of kindness? How often do you see kindness around you? Let’s keep the momentum going, and strive to keep paying it forward!