Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pay it forward (or is it, pay it backwards?)

For me, there has been a significant mind/heart shift since I've been writing this blog and commenting on other blogs. I find myself constantly re-evaluating how I act and react in day to day situations. It's as if once I've typed something and sent it hurtling into cyberspace, it's there for eternity to remind me when I fail to live up to the views I've expounded upon. I may not be able to remember where they all are, but they are no doubt out there somewhere. Such is the case with a comment I made on JML's blog, Very Much Later. JML (Jake) writes a blog that I'm happy to say, I stumbled upon shortly after I started blogging myself. I love the honesty in his writing. He doesn't sugar coat his perspective on being a Christian, and he's able write about his personal walk without talking in "Christianese". Also, he's got some pretty amusing vomit stories.

This particular post was about witnessing to people. Specifically, what I refer to as the "cold call" witness. My comment pertained to how I've never actually been comfortable approaching total strangers and witnessing to them. Instead, I prefer to get to know a person and let them get to know me. If they seem drawn to this intangible thing that's different about me, that's when I'll share my story with them. This is just what feels right to me -- I'm not judging how others share the gospel of Christ. There is one way I'm comfortable witnessing to strangers. I try to find opportunities to practice random acts of kindness. (It's an old bumper sticker, but I still like it.)

A couple of mornings ago, I had a piece of mail that I wanted mailed that day. Since our mail person doesn't typically come until late afternoon, I dropped it in a public mailbox at the nearest shopping center. My son wanted to come with me and get some breakfast at Jack in the Box. As I was waiting in the drive-thru line, I thought, "I should pay for the person behind me." This was appealing to me on many levels: 1) I would be practicing a random act of kindness, 2) I would be teaching my son a valuable lesson about our motives to do good, and 3) it was a fairly easy way to accomplish 1 and 2.

Except that is wasn't easy. My first clue should have been the fact that I had to repeat my order 3 times. The cashier's English was not great. When I pulled up to the window, she gave me my total. I said, "Okay. But I also want to pay for the person behind me." She smiled and said, "Yes, yes okay." Then proceeded to read my order back to me. At this point, there are several cars behind me, and the intended recipient of my random act of kindness was looking impatient. He also looked like he could be a body double for Paul Sr. on "American Chopper". After two attempts to communicate what I was trying to do, she finally got her manager. I still had to repeat it twice. Not because her English was bad, but because apparently, paying for a total stranger's meal is not a common occurrence at this particular eating establishment.

I was finally able to accomplish my original goal. But within that time span of approximately 3 or 4 minutes, several times I wanted to just blow it off and try again another time. But Jesus never said that following Him would be easy. And if everything was easy to attain, then nothing would be worth having. As I was pulling away, I made a conscience effort NOT to look at the truck behind me. But I couldn't help it. I glanced at him just as he was turning his head towards me. I'm not a great lip reader, but I'm pretty sure his way of saying thank you translated into "What the F***!?!" And that was good enough for me...(smile)


Justine (Justwaaaa) said...

What a great story! The last line was the best because that's probably exactly what I would have said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, here's something to make you think, and I in no way mean to take away from the random act of kindness. There have been times in the past when I've done something along those lines and then did what you did. I told people about it because I felt so happy. But should we do that, or just keep it between us and God? Shouldn't it be enough that it makes us feel good, without having to tell our friends and family what we did so THEY would think what we did was good? Did this make ANY sense at all????????????? But wait, I'm talking to the woman who named her blog Look! A chicken! ROFL

Justin :o )

katdish said...


You're absolutely right. Actually, I haven't even told my husband about this little encounter, but I guess by blogging about it, I've ruined the randomness of it. But, alas, my life is an open blog...

Helen said...

I love your latest mural. Those elephants look so sweet and tranquil, yet at the same time, awesome.

When I was in college, I used to check the parking meters when I passed them and add money if it was expired (the meter police were very diligent around the college campus). At the time, I thought it was a cheap way to save someone like me (a college student) a lot of money. You wouldn't believe how many times since then I have parked in a space with a meter, only to find that there was plenty of time left on the meter. So don't be surprised if some stranger pays for your drive thru meal more than once in the future.
Have a great day!

Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

I loved this story. You showed a random act of kindness. And had to pratice patience at the same time. I am sure he was wondering, "What the F***." Have a great day!

SchmeckyGirl said...

Oh don't listen to Justine. It was a funny story and I'm glad you told it. Maybe you've inspired others to do the same.

Except I'm scared to because with my luck the guy behind me will have a family of 8 all buying meal combos, plus dessert.

But at least now I know there's hope that others will pay for mine! Woo hoo! I'm ordering more than the $1 cheeseburger next time!

SchmeckyGirl said...

So are you going to give us the answer the the turkey's flying vote? I can't wait. Who said it????
And by the way, turkeys can fly.
Wild ones anyway... regular ones can't.

Bridget said...

I think it is great that you told this story. We might not all think of this on our own and maybe some of us will do this now, spreading kindness across the country. You go girl!

Justine (Justwaaaa) said...

No, of course you didn't ruin it! It was still a lovely thing. Just wanted to make you think a little, 'cause this is the stuff that goes through my twisted head.

kw said...

jp's new church plant up in dallas is doing something very similar. they have a web site where you can share your experiences as the giver of the kindness or the receiver of the kindness. the web site is this is the way it works. they try to keep it in and around the community in restaurants or diners. you pick out the target, get the waiter involved, pay the tab and leave. the waiter then lets the target know the tab is paid and then give s them a card with the web site on it. no mention of church yet, that comes later. the first community event starts in july and they will reveal that they, the new church plant, are responsible for this wave of random acts of kindness.

they were at the house today and i told them about your experience/adventure. i guess great minds truely do think alike.


JML said...

Holla back!!!!! That just made my whole day. You have no idea. I have people pay for others in the drive through at my work and I love every minute of it because truthfully, I've gotten that exact response. People don't understand generosity toward a random stranger like that. I'm sorry it wasn't as picturesque as you had imagined, but just picture God pointing and laughing. I know I'd be doing that. Very impressed!!!!!!

JML said...

By the way, thanks for always commenting on what I write. It makes me feel like I'm worth reading!!! You flippin rock!