PAYING IT FORWARD
It’s February and our thoughts turn to love! At school we read books such as “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown, “I Love You So…” by Marianne Richmond and “I Love You Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt. We sing songs about love and mail ourselves Valentines. We feel all warm and happy thinking about ways we will help around the house and around the community. Caring for others takes thoughtfulness and planning. We set goals and carry them out. That’s a good start to loving our community!
On the other hand, has your day ever changed for the better when a complete stranger did something that left you speechless? In mid December I had an experience that did just that. I had been shopping online and after using my credit card I left my wallet on the desk by the computer. Then, rushing off to Michaels, I picked up some ribbon for a Preschool project and found myself at the register with no way to pay for the ribbon. I needed it the next day. While negotiating with the employee at the register about holding my purchases while I ran home to get money, a young woman behind me said, “ I’ll pay for that ribbon. No problem. It doesn’t cost much.” I was stunned! Of course, I objected. I have my pride : ) The young woman smiled and said, “Pay it forward to someone else some day. “ I will!
Earlier last fall one of our Preschool grandparents, who heard through the grapevine that one of our students might miss our school party because of lack of transportation, asked me to offered the family cab fare for the student so the party wouldn’t be missed. Although that arrangement wasn’t needed in the end, I was again surprised by the generosity of others.
Then, recently, I was entering Cub Foods near suppertime. It was the bewitching hour when parents were rushing in after work to pick up dinner. An older gentleman was seated on a bench near the exit door whistling a beautiful tune. The melody hung in the air like a professional performance. I had to smile as I walked by knowing my evening would be somehow better for having heard it. Was it the same for others?
Loving our family, our grandchildren, and our best friends is easy. Casting the net wider can seem more challenging. After all, we don’t have many extra minutes in our days, weeks or months for additional projects. I have told the three stories above to suggest that we my be helping others in our community without even knowing it. The little things we do to “pay it forward” are brightening someone’s day. They, in turn, respond to our act of kindness and accidentally brighten someone else’s day. Happiness spreads like ripples on a lake! A “thank you,” a smile, returning someone’s shopping cart for them, providing transportation for someone, are all easy things to do and they start the ripples moving.
Young people at our church used to wear bracelets that said, “What would Jesus do?” or WWJD. Keeping that phrase in mind as we go about our daily tasks is all we need to do to change our world. Paying it forward is what Jesus would do. Can we, too?