Wow. So for those of you who were hanging around my Facebook page yesterday, you probably saw me post about an amazing random act of kindness that was perpetrated on me. A coworker (I’m pretty sure I know who but haven’t’ confirmed it) slipped me a $20 bill all ninja-style and stealthily. No note, no explanation, she didn’t even own up to it when I asked if it was her. So how do I know she did it?
Well, earlier in the day I had laughingly said that I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home that night because my car was almost out of gas and I didn’t have the money to fill it up until we got paid today. Granted, my car did make it home without sputtering and dying, and I’m sure I could have found some pennies somewhere to pay for gas if I was really desperate. But that doesn’t matter. This lovely coworker saw a way that she could help someone and discretely moved in and did it.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I felt just a little awkward. My thoughts instantly zipped to “Wait, I didn’t give off the impression that I was desperate or begging or anything, did I?”
But after I thought about it for a while, and after I took a poll of my Facebook family, I shook that thought off. My wonderful coworker was just being nice. Super nice. Oh, and she also brought me a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte because we had been talking about that too. I feel incredibly blessed to have her as part of my daily life.
And then I started thinking….
We hear about random acts of kindness and the beauty of paying it forward all the time. We talk about charity in action and treating our fellow men with love and respect. Everyone knows that it’s good to do kind things for people. But for all the publicity that doing the right thing and being a good person get, we never really teach each other how to receive kindness.
How many times has someone complimented you only to have you contradict them? “That’s a great shirt you’re wearing!” “Really? This? It’s nothing.” “You’re looking good! Have you been working out?” “Who, me? I’m a lazy slob!” “You smell good.” “Ugh, I stink.” You know what I’m talking about. I’m not exactly sure why, but a lot of us live in a world where we just can’t take a compliment.
But it goes beyond that. Not only is it hard for us to accept compliments, it’s even harder for us to accept help. My first reaction when I realized someone had given me money was to protest that I was not that poor. I’m not! I swear! Although I do have to tread a lot of water to keep afloat and I don’t have any help to do it. I’m proud of my independence though. I identify myself by it. This is who I am!
And that’s who my dear coworker is. She’s a wonderful person. I’ve known that for four years. That’s what started me thinking that the best way to honor her kindness and her generosity is not to return the money, which was my first impulse, but to pay it forward. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Still, it’s hard to adjust your thinking from being the do-er of generous things to being the do-ee. It can feel strange, awkward. We can feel like we don’t really need it or like we don’t really deserve it. But if we outright stop it then we’re stopping the flow. No one wants to stop the flow of good in this world! We need goodness far too much.So I’m going to take that money, or the spirit of it at least, and be on the lookout for someone who needs a helping hand. Something might come up tomorrow or it might wait a year. But the time will come. And I would encourage all of you to take the spirit of that $20 and pay it forward as well. If you know someone who needs a boost, then boost away. Even further, if you find yourself in a position where someone is offering you an act of kindness, accept that act with gratitude. Hard though it may be, don’t shut it down. Let’s fill this world with goodness and love!