A number of years ago I was going through the drive-thru of a coffee shop. The parking lot was crowded and busy and there was another car who wanted to get into line. Unfortunately, they were stuck in a little offshoot of the lot, and they were going to be there a long time unless someone made room for them, so I let them in in front of me. It wasn't a big deal. I had time and I knew that I would be thankful if someone did it for me if I was in the same position. When I arrived at the window to pick up my coffee, I found that my drink had been paid for, compliments of the person I had let in line. I was flabbergasted! My little random act of kindness - one that hadn't cost me anything but a little time and very little thought - had been returned to me intentionally - in a way that cost someone something and truly blessed me. I was flabbergasted! But I was ashamed, too. Why?
I would never have thought to do that.
In fact, when I got my coffee at the window it never even occurred to me to do the same for the person behind me.
When I pulled out of the parking lot and started to think about what had happened, I realized that it is easier to do a random act of kindness than it is to do an intentional act of love. Doing something kind is good, but doing it out of love - with a heart that truly desires to benefit the other person and not just make ourselves feel warm and fuzzy and like a nice person - is better!!
One of the things I truly want to work on this year is to see the people behind my Acts of Kindness. If.I give to a good cause, do I do it just because it is a good thing to do? Or do I actually pray for the people that I am helping? If I buy a box of cookies from a Girl Scout, do I stop and look them in the eye and say thank you, or do I treat it as a cold business transaction? Do I ever actually stop and plan ways to bless others? Maybe even scheduling them into my week? I'll bet you can think of many, many ideas that will be a blessing to others, but if you need to prime the pump, don't forget about the Acts of Kindness pages that we sell in packs of 12, or as part of the Classic Home Journal Dated Monthly Calendar. There are a number of kindness prompts there - not just geared to bless strangers, but those in your own home, as well. Just like it is much easier to clean a friend's house rather than your own, it is easier to be kind to a pleasant stranger than it might be to do something special for a moody husband or child. But don't forget about the ones that you are closest to. That is love -- in action.
Love gives intentionally.
By the way - Since that time, I have had the pleasure of paying for the person behind me in line and it truly is a blessing. And every time I am reminded of the lesson I learned about making random acts of kindness into intentional acts of love.
How about you? Have you ever experienced a random act of kindness? How could you pay it forward as an intentional act of love? How can you plan to be a blessing to another this week??