Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pay it forward

William wrote this beautiful Thanksgiving message and I'd like to share with you. Read up and enjoy!...

There is so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season, for starters, if you are reading this, you are alive.

I was in a conference once where the topic was being grateful for our wayward teens and the leader of the conference who knew the frustration we lived with each day said something I will never forget. He said, just be grateful that your child breaths, even if that is the only thing that you can be grateful for because you see the alternative is that they would be dead. I started to view my teen differently from that day forward.

During that conference they gave us time to go out and do random acts of kindness during the day and report back that evening.  I must admit at first I had no idea what I was going to do but by the end of the day I had been transformed by how simple acts of random kindness not only affected those I helped but how it touched my heart to its core.

I left the facility not knowing what I would do or where I would go and eventually decided I would go into a Wendy’s and buy someone person’s lunch.  I noticed an elderly woman with a young boy around the age of 10 at the counter and getting ready to pay.  I rushed to the counter and asked if I could pay for their meal. At first they said no but finally agreed to let me pay for the meal.  I sat down with the elderly woman and young boy and asked them who they were and what they were up to that day, this is what I found out.  The young boy was celebrating his birthday that day and his grandmother was taking him to a nearby Walmart to buy a video game with the $10 dollars he had gotten for his birthday. His grandmother indicated she lived in a nearby trailer court that her husband of 55 years had recently passed away, that the boy’s Mother and Father where drug addicts and could not celebrate his birthday because they were no-where to be found.  As I listened to their story, I began to weep and my heart went out to the elderly woman and her grandson.  We sat and talked for nearly an hour an as I listened my heart grew larger with compassion and empathy.  At the end of the meal, the two of them indicated it was time for them to leave and go to Walmart to purchase the video game the boy was hoping to buy.  I told them the game would cost much more than $10 dollars and I suggested I go with them and help them select a game that they could reasonably afford.  As I suspected, the games were closer to $50 each.  I ended up buying two games for the young boy and told him to keep his money and save it for college.  We were all crying at that point and I left feeling as though I had touched the hearts of both the Grandmother and her young grandson.

I left the Walmart again not knowing where I was heading and as I was driving I noticed a self-serve car wash and decided that I would pay for the car wash of the next person that came in.  I waited for what seemed for 10 minutes when a large muddy pickup truck with dual back wheel tires rolled into the wash and out stepped a very elderly man.  I quickly ran over and asked the man if I could pay for his truck to wash and suggested to him that he could sit back and I would wash and dry his truck for him.  At first he said absolutely not but after a little prodding he agreed to let me wash his truck.  As I washed we struck up a conversation and I found out he was 86 years old and his wife had passed away 10 years ago, he had three sons who lived in the State but he hadn’t seen any of them for the past 8 years.  He had no permanent residence and the truck he was driving was the type that you could hook a trailer up to and so he lived from trailer park to trailer park.  He indicated his children no longer had time for him, that they were just too busy with their life and that he was all alone and sad all the time.  As we talked I could tell he was just happy to have someone to talk with who took some interest in what he was saying.  It took me nearly 2 hours to wash and dry his truck.  I was working very slowly because I could tell this gentleman was enjoying our conversation.  Initially I was asking quite a few questions just to get the man talking but after a while I really didn’t have to say anything. I listened as the old man talked and after I was completely done and we said our goodbyes, I sat in my car and weep.  I was so touched by this gentleman’s story and the sadness that that enveloped his life.  I said a prayer for him and went about my business looking for another opportunity to serve.

I decided to go to a nursing home and asked the receptionist if it would be OK for me to go and visit with some of the people living in the home. She indicated that they had just started to play bingo and if I liked I could go and call out the numbers, which is exactly what I did.  I called out the numbers for two games and as I did, I told jokes and tried to be funny and upbeat.  It seemed as though everyone was enjoying me putting some energy into calling the numbers.  I too was having a great time interacting with those living in the home playing bingo.  When I finished I went back up to the front desk and asked the receptionist if there was anyone living in the home who hadn’t had a visitor for a while and she indicated there was an elderly woman who hadn’t have a visitor in 5 years.  I asked if I could see her and spend some time with her.  Shortly thereafter a nurse brought an elderly in a woman to the front lobby. Confused at first the elderly woman had no idea who I was and I explained to her I was here to see her and let her know she was not forgotten and that I loved her.  When I said this to her, her whole face began to light up and she had the biggest smile on her face. I wanted her to know that I was a friend and that she was a gift to me and I was extremely glad to be there talking with her.  Our conversation lasted for nearly an hour when she had to leave for dinner.  As I left I gave her a great big hug and told her again how much she meant to me and that I loved her.  I then pushed her wheelchair to the dinner room and left and as I left, I past the receptionist who had a tears in her eyes.  She told me that was the sweetest thing she had seen in her five years working at the nursing home.  Little did she know it was I who was the one who received the greatest gift of joy.

That day will forever be etched in my mind as one of the happiest days of my life.  For a brief period of time, it was about me and my problems. I came away with two guiding principles that I still live by; the first being, “it is not about me and secondly, love and serve others”.

I am extremely grateful this Thanksgiving season for the many blessing that come my way each and every day and I would encourage all to go out experience the gift of peace, happiness and joy that comes from a random act of kindness.

May God bless you all and know this; God loves you and he asks that you love yourself and then go out and love others as yourself.