Featured Photo by aislynnmichelle
A couple of years ago, I took my mom on a week trip to all kinds of places she’d been wanting to go. The trip spanned 7 states in just about as many days! As we were making the last 3 hours of the trip between Atlanta and Nashville, we got hungry and pulled off the interstate to grab a bite at a fast food place. We pulled into the drive through line, and waited our turn. And waited. And waited. It was packed, both inside and out. By the time we realized it was going to be a very long time to get our food, it was too late to get out of the line because of the cramped space the little joint occupied. So, we people watched, and chatted, and patiently waited.
The car in front of us finally got to the window. I think she was ordering for an army, because it took her forever to get her order placed. But she did, and moved on up to the window to pay. We placed our order and watched as bag after bag of food was handed out to the car in front of us. We speculated about who all that food might be for, and laughed about the possibilities.
A Beautiful Surprise!
When I pulled up to the window to pay, the girl said, “You don’t owe anything.” I stared at her for a moment, and finally said, “What?” She said, “Yeah, the lady in front of you paid for your order. Here ya go.” And she handed out our food, and shut the window.
Well. What a surprise. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to do the same for the person behind me. I wish it had. But, I was so taken aback by the random act of kindness from the stranger in front of me, that I just pulled out. I have, since, thought a lot about that night.
A Beautiful Awakening
It’s been my practice for a long time to do little kindnesses like that. Paying an expired meter here and there, and yes, even paying for the fast food of someone behind me at the drive through. But, no one had ever done me that kindness…until that night.
Granted, it wasn’t a huge thing. But it had a huge impact. It gave me the opportunity to feel a random act of kindness. Let me tell you, it’s vastly different from giving one. In giving one, I generally feel really good. It fills me with a sense of generosity, well-being and abundance – all really good feelings.
Being on the receiving end was so humbling. It washed over me as I got back on the road to continue our trip. I felt so incredibly blessed that a stranger bestowed on me that kindness. Unsolicited and knowing that I had absolutely no way of repayment to her directly.
Being the benefactor also gave me such a sense of the innate goodness of people.
For most of us, I would venture to say, it’s easier to give than it is to receive. And that’s a little sad to me. By refusing to receive, we cheat the other person out of experiencing feelings of generosity. And I think we cheat ourselves out of the feeling of humility; A feeling that is just as important, if not more so.
A Beautiful Challenge
When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive a kindness from someone humbly and without protest? Next time someone offers it, accept it, with gratitude and humility. Let the kindness of another person wash over you and fill you up. It will change you.