PayItForward

“I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers” is a very infamous movie quote. Most all of us have heard it. In my mind, I always liken that phrase to being the receiver of something someone has “paid forward”. And in most cases, that is exactly what it is. Someone else shares a blessing with you, and the hope is that you will receive that gift, and then you will, in turn, pay it forward for someone else.
Since my journey as a blogger began a few months ago, I have had the opportunity (and privilege!) of becoming part of your lives in a way I wouldn’t have before. And in turn, I have received comments and so many of you have said thank you for what I’ve written. Each one makes me smile knowing that you’ve read and been touched by what I wrote! It’s so exciting to be able to have that connection – that camaraderie – with each of you. But this isn’t about how I’ve touched you. This post is about how you’ve touched me.
As a child, I grew up with a very meager lifestyle. We lived on a farm in central Kentucky with no cable, no car, no running water. This meant that we had 4 television channels, we had to wait for someone else who was going to the store to take us with them, and we had to haul our own water in five gallon buckets. We ate what we grew or what my dad hunted when he was home from working on the road. We had cows and chickens and horses and pigs. Looking back, my childhood seems quite unique, and to some even a difficult one. But to me, it was just life. It wasn’t until I got much older that I learned of the times people would bring us groceries and other necessities that we couldn’t get to town to get while my dad was on the road.
Shortly after my parents separated, my newly single mom was trying to support us kids by herself. We knew it was hard for her, so we didn’t complain when all we could afford was a Christmas tree (just the tree!). When a family from our church showed up at our door with bags and bags of Christmas decorations for our tree and home it was a beautiful blessing! Those people have no idea how touched we were by that!!!
Again and again, I have been touched by the kindness of strangers (and by the kindness of my beautiful friends and family). This week, two events occurred that brought me to tears at the gifts they were. An anonymous deposit, and a pair of concert tickets somehow made their way to my family via the hands of some very amazing “strangers” in my life. Those strangers didn’t know the depth of need. I had posted last week on facebook about my bank taking money out of my account to “settle up” an old account with my ex that still had my name on it. While I did make it known in that post that I was very upset, what “the stranger” didn’t know was that the money taken was money I set aside for groceries. The bank didn’t get concerned that my budget is very tight and very specific. The stranger didn’t know that at that moment, my gas tank was nearly empty and I had no money until Friday. But their gift was perfectly timed and desperately needed! “The strangers” didn’t know that the only thing my mother had asked for as a birthday present was tickets to Chris Tomlin, but I hadn’t been able to purchase them for her. This week, both of those needs were met by someone else’s amazing kindness and generosity. While you may not think concert tickets were a need, please know that my mom doesn’t ask for much. She is my full time nanny, and has been a complete rock in my life. She has been my biggest cheerleader, and my greatest prayer warrior. And if you could have seen how happy she was at that concert, you would have thought SHE was the kid and I was the parent!!
I started out this post trying to decide what my “angle” was. Am I writing to encourage others to pay it forward, or am I writing to scream thank you from the social media mountaintop to those people who paid it forward for me this week? And as I’ve written, I have realized that I am doing both. Without those incredible people, my week would have gone completely different. Because of their willingness to share their blessing, they blessed me. And they’ve inspired me. I don’t always have the means to pay it forward, but after this week, I will certainly be looking for ways that I can! Even something as small as paying the toll for the car behind you. You never know how deep your gift reaches. But to the person who receives it, when they are about to choose between gas and milk, you changed their circumstances…You may never know how much it meant to the person who receives it. Even now, as I write this, I’m in tears by the gifts. So to those who blessed me this week, to those who blessed my family when I was growing up, if you read this, please know that you are cherished, you are appreciated, and that your kindness will not be forgotten.