When I created my 35 before 35 adventure list, I thought it would be good to pick things that would challenge me to not only to explore other things in this world but things that would challenge my inner being as well.
I wanted to stretch my own limits and push myself to really live fully. When it came down to it, I just thought it would be fun and light-hearted.
One of my undertakings was to pay for someone behind me in the drive through. This seemed like a simple task when I put it on my list. One that would not really challenge me much but would be a good effort to put out some love and kindness into the world.
Needless to say, this is a small task that ended up having a huge impact on my heart.
But not in the way that you may think.
See, it was honestly a huge struggle for me to pay for someone’s meal. Like a ridiculous struggle.
First, McDonald’s is my weakness friends. Anytime I go out for errands at lunch, I pull through to grab myself a frappe or smoothie with a side of fries (ok and maybe a McChicken). So even though I was going there at least once a week, I would forget about this challenge of mine until I was already down the street munching on those fries.
About a month ago, I was finally remembering that I should check this off my list! What a great opportunity now that I am remembering to actually do it before I pay.
However, there were several times I remembered, but when I pulled up to that window, the words would not come out of my mouth to do it.
There were a few things happening.
1. I sized up the vehicle behind me. “Oh it’s a van-They probably have a large order because of ALL the kids that must be in there. I can’t shell out a lot of money. We are trying to buy a house.”
2. I sized up the vehicle behind me. “Oh it’s a [insert expensive car]-They don’t need my measly money. They have ALL the money already.”
3. I chickened out.
I was making a lot of judgments in the three minutes I was in the drive-through. I was talking myself out with reasons why this person wasn’t deserving of my kindness or how I just couldn’t manage to fork over 10 more dollars because our finances are tight with our impending move. I am very strict/stingy with our money. I know where every penny goes, and I am not good with spontaneous spending, even if it is a good cause. We make a lot of donations else where, so why did I make this challenge for myself? Honestly I was just thinking too much about it. I just needed to DO it.
I started thinking though, “No one would know if I didn’t do it.”
But I would know.
God would know.
I started feeling really guilty for my thoughts and lack of action. Here I am talking day in and day out about not making quick judgments of people and trying to be a good light for others, and I can’t even anonymously buy someone else a meal (and let’s be real-a cheap meal).
I am embarrassed how many times I went through the drive-through over the last month contemplating this task.
Then one day, I was going through the longest line ever, and I started saying to myself, “Self, you gotta make this happen today. Put your money where your mouth is.” Literally.
As I was driving through that double drive-through, even then I was still sizing up the cars around me saying if it was this car I would, or this car I wouldn’t. Then low and behold, the car behind me ended up being this rough looking man who was in his mid twenties and revving his engine up telling everyone in front of him to hurry up. He was tapping on his car in angst and just looked as pissed as all get out. In my head, I first thought, no way am I giving it to this guy. He would not be grateful at all. He doesn’t deserve my money because of his rude demeanor.
Then it hit me like bricks. It is not my place to decide who is deserving and who isn’t. I should show kindness to all that I meet.
Also I am not doing this for praise. He will have no idea who I am.
As I pulled up to that window, I was shaking and nervous. Then I became more nervous because why was I freaking out about paying for this guy’s meal. Seriously just calm down. Why is being generous so hard?!?
I thought about my grandparents and parents who make giving all of themselves look so easy and effortless. Why am I struggling with handing over a few extra dollars?
And then it was over. I payed for his meal, and we both went about our day.
I have no clue how it impacted him; I didn’t even watch him in my mirror when he pulled up to the pay window to see his reaction. But it really changed my outlook and how I serve other people.
Generosity is rarely about money.
It made me think about how often we do things for others.
It made me think about how we need to get our mind off ourselves.
It made me think that love always comes at a cost, but that it is what makes this world go round.
It made me think what if God was as stingy as I was being or judged me on one of my worst days? What if he just gave me just enough to get buy? What if He hoarded His blessings because He was making sure He had enough for everything else going on in His world?
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
It made me think I not only need to be open-minded, but open-handed. I don’t think this was a lesson that God was saying I need to give out all my money, but He was showing me that I need to have a more generous heart. I need to let me stinginess down a bit and step out of my comfort zone.
We often are content in staying uninvolved with people around us, strangers and friends alike. As long as our own lives are comfortable we don’t want to mess with the water. We make excuses of why we should stay in our own bubble.
I am right there in the struggle. I don’t like shaking things up, and I like my peace and knowing where things are going. Again spontaneity is not my friend. But I pray that God continues to work on my heart to be more Christ-like, especially in this day and age of constant judgment, apathy and uninvolvement.
It makes me think of the Good Samaritan parable in Luke. Many individuals passed up opportunities to show kindness because of the burden or mess that it would cause for themselves. We would like to think that we would be the Samaritan, but which would you be when it really comes down to it? Imagine what would happen to our world if we started even doing one small acts a day. Simple acts can have huge impacts, and I think we often forget that. It was definitely something that I needed a reminder of in my own day to day.
We are always looking at big ticket things that can change the world and the hearts around us, but it is often in these small gestures that cause that warm feeling in your gut. This kindness can have a ripple effect. And it is a reminder that giving doesn’t always have to monetary. We should give our time and be there for people as well.
Even though I wasn’t the intended target of change for this, it ended up changing my mentality and reset my outlook completely. I have some work I need to do.
We all have trials and ways that we stumble trying to live out God’s plan. It is comforting to know that even though I am not perfect, God will not let me fall and is using me as His instrument. God gave me what I have, so I should be willing to share my good graces in return. He will always provide a manner for us to be giving people. The more you give the more you live.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Have you struggled with giving? What are small gestures you make to spread kindness?