A year or so ago, as I was leaving Bible study, I pulled through a McDonald’s to get Madeline a McNugget Happy Meal for lunch. As I pulled forward to pay, the cashier told me that the lady in the vehicle in front of me had already paid for my order. The cashier said that she did the same thing every week – paid for whoever was behind her – and went on her way. As I looked forward to catch a glimpse of the sort of woman who would do such a selfless thing, Â she was gone. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her random act of kindness and it certainly put a smile on my face. I’ve always wanted to do that – pay it forward – but I’m always afraid I’ll get hit with the lone guy who is making the Mickey-D’s run for his entire department. I’m stingy, I guess.
Oh, I’m not all that bad. Recently, I was in line at the hospital cafeteria getting my standard lunch of a turkey wrap and a bag of chips. The guy in front of me was buying his lunch only to find that he had forgotten his wallet. The cashier was slightly annoyed, but not terribly upset. She called him “sweetie” and told him to bring her what he owed tomorrow (evidently this guy was a medical student of some sort and would be coming back to the hospital the following day). Before I could think about it I pulled out some cash and paid for his meal. He thanked me and went on his way. When it was my turn to check out, I told the cashier that she was very sweet and I always appreciated her demeanor whenever I was in her check out line. She got a bit teary and thanked me. I mentioned that being in the hospital with your child was hard enough so when you run into any sort of kindness it’s such a blessing. We’ve since become pals.
Her name is Eleanor. And since that day, I always go to her check out line. She always gives me a bit of a discount. We gave her a picture of Ben that she keeps at her home. She prays for him every night. She gives me encouraging words whenever I’m getting my turkey wrap. Two days ago when we were in the ER with Ben, I stopped by to say hello. She had a book for me and a Bible for Ben. She had been holding it at her register until she saw me again (which had been at least three weeks). She is a great comfort to me when I am having the crappiest of days. Had I never said anything to her – telling her I appreciate her – we might not have the relationship we have today. Random? Yes. But oh-so-lovely.
Over the past several years, we have experienced many people going out of their way for us. People who want to do something nice for Ben. People who want to help us through this tremendously stressful time. Many of these people we know, but there are so many who we’ve never even met. Their hearts go out to Ben or they’ve been through a similar situation. Love comes from the most interesting places – and surprisingly not where you THINK it’s going to come from.
My advice: Don’t set yourself up to fail. Don’t wait for someone to do something nice for you. Don’t wait for someone to be kind to you. Don’t expect love from the “traditional” sources. Get out there and DO IT YOURSELF. YOU be the one to start. Do something random. You’ll find love in the most amazing places. And if you’re doing it for the “thank you” or for the “accolades” or because you think you’re doing someone a favor, don’t do it. That is the wrong reason. Love unconditionally. Don’t look to see who is in the car behind you before you decide to pay for their happy meal. Just do it.