How a Simple Act Changed Me Forever

Recently, I had one of those days. You know the one…  My morning started out with a grouchy toddler who couldn’t be satisfied, no matter what I tried to do for him. Once I got in my car to take him to daycare, I realized my gas tank was beyond empty, and I was mad at myself for not stopping the night before to fill it up. And to make matters worse, traffic was unbearable. I felt like so many little things were piling up and that I just should have stayed in bed.

Once I filled up my tank and dropped the little one off to daycare, I had a full day of training for work and was looking forward to a nice lunch by myself. So after training let out, I headed to my favorite cafeteria-style restaurant, ordered my favorite meal, went to the cashier, and BAM – my debit card declined. DECLINED! How embarrassing! I told the cashier that she must have run my card wrong and to try it again, only for the screen to read DECLINED yet again. My heart sank, and I got hot and sweaty. How could this be? I knew there was nothing wrong with my account, yet my card was declining! People were staring at me, and I just didn’t know what to do next since I never carry cash with me. The cashier took my tray and set it behind her and said to wait until the manager could come help me. People continued to stare…and I just continued to feel embarrassed.

I immediately grabbed my phone and logged in to my online banking. Once I was logged in, it said my account was compromised and frozen, and that I should immediately call the 1-800 number listed. When I began to call the number, out of nowhere, this amazing woman came up behind me, hugged me, and paid for my lunch. I turned around to tell her thank you but no thank you {I was definitely going to handle it myself!} when she said, “I will hear no such thing. I’ve been there.”

I started to explain to her that I did indeed have money, but my account had a hold on it when she stopped me again and said, “You can pay me back by paying it forward. My name is Helen. Have a good day, honey.” Then she left. By the time I hung up my phone and tried to search the restaurant for her, I saw her getting in her car and driving away.

I was amazed! I have never seen anyone do anything like this in real life, and someone just saved my day! Without question! My heart was full, and I couldn’t believe how someone who didn’t even know me could do such a thing for a stranger!

Right then and there, I told myself that I was going to pay it forward for Helen, and I wasn’t going to stop there. I was going to create in my child a spirit of kindness, gratitude, and show him what paying it forward is all about. Ralph Waldo Emerson says it best…

“In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.”

I’ve created a list of 10 things that we can do, my toddler and me, together that will bestow kindness on others that hopefully you and your little ones can do too. I want to make others feel as special, surprised, and just happy that there are people on this earth that still do selfless things from the heart.

  1. Let someone cut in front of you in the checkout line at the grocery store.
  2. Mail a letter to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time to let them know you are thinking of them. {Maybe even include a gift card to a coffee shop or restaurant, for kicks!}
  3. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you in the drive-through line.
  4. Donate your time and old clothes to the local shelter.
  5. Bake cookies or brownies and bring them to your neighbors.
  6. Pick up trash from your favorite neighborhood park.
  7. Donate food and pet toys to the local animal shelters, like BARC and SPCA.
  8. Buy an extra meal at the drive-through and give it to the person on the corner asking for change.
  9. Hold the door open for people behind you.
  10. Smile at others – you never know what they are going through, and a simple smile can make their day!

This list is FAR from all inclusive, so tell me – what are some ways that you and your children pay it forward too?

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