Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pay It Forward | The Ripple Effects of Kindness

Have you ever been a part of something that had you beaming ear to ear with a smile? Did it make your heart overflow to where you just had to share the experience and the consequential smile? That's me in this moment, and I would like to share with you, my precious reader.

I struggled with whether talking about this experience would diminish the blessing or make it any less valuable.  I struggled with coming off as looking for self-glorification.  I just have to trust that the intentions of my heart will be obvious: I want you to be blessed by this, and I want you to feel inspired to go out and bless someone else.

Here goes.

I was in line at the grocery store today, and a lady was ahead of me with her baby. 

Turns out this woman didn't have enough money for her order. Without hesitation, I asked if I could treat her. I had recently been very blessed, and I was open and receptive to the opportunity to "pay it forward." This felt like the right moment.

At first, she looked a little embarrassed...possibly offended.  To ease the awkwardness, I shrugged my shoulders, smiled, and looked away as I said in my sweetest voice, "I just wanted to do my random act of kindness for the day." 

She seemed more at ease at that point, "Well, if you WANT to," she said as she smiled. The cashier and bagger couldn't stop smiling and the cashier commented, "Wow, this is so nice." My heart wondered if they had ever had this experience before. I wondered how their hearts may have been affected and if it would cause a ripple effect in their lives.

While the food was being scanned and bagged, the woman was talking to her child. She then turned to me and told me about how her daughter was a she's into her doctor said not to be alarmed that she's lagging on the developmental calendar. 

She shared that she works the early morning shift at McDonald's and just got off of work. She told me exactly which McDonald's she worked at and said that I should go down there next week, and she'd pay me back. "No," I told her. Please pay it forward. If you see someone that you can help out, just do it.  "Ok," she said, "thank you again."

I paid for her order (it was a just a few items, mostly things on clearance.)   I was confused when she walked away and there were still items on the conveyor belt. The cashier explained that the woman had split her order up for some reason, and she was running to the car to get money. 

I don't know why I didn't act then to tell her I intended to bless her - not half bless her - and for the cashier to ring up the rest of the order on my card. But, I guess I froze up in the confusion.

Once the woman was outside, I asked the cashier if she could hustle and charge the second order to my card as well. I wanted her to hurry so I could get out of the store before the woman returned.

The cashier smiled brightly and said, "Wow, this is SO nice. Are you sure? ...Wow."  And, we did it! Again, it was just a few items, all on clearance.

I hope my friend in line really came back in to get her items, but I'll never know for sure. What I do know is if we all step up to the opportunities to bless others that present themselves to us when we are able, the ripple effects will be amazing.  

People will feel better, having received and/or witnessed it, and they will likely go on to be kinder to others that day. Perhaps they will also bless them in some other way. 

I can't get the image of this woman, her baby, and the smiling, somewhat bewildered cashier and bagger out of my mind. I can't stop smiling about the whole thing. 

I was reminded today of the many, many times that people - even complete strangers - have stepped up to bless me when times were rough.  I am so thankful to have opportunities to pay it forward.

Thank you for letting me share this experience with you.

Have you recently been blessed? What are some of your ideas around how to pay if forward?



  1. Debbie , usually I'm able to respond to your beautiful writings , provide my feedback , 2cents but with this one I had tears & lots of it :)..and I'm at a loss of words to respond to this spontaneity..yes I've had such incidents and yes we need each one of us to resolve to 'pay it forward' atleast once a week if not daily- kindness comes in many forms!!thank you for yet another heart felt inspiring and beautiful blog:)

  2. I must say i enjoy your writing and did not know u had so many blogs already written.

    I think paying it forward is a wonderful thing. What you have done for that woman and her child will always be remembered.

    People in our country young and old are starving, without homes and without a job. God has blessed me with a home to live in and food to eat. I have a job but I have my own struggles too. Its a hard world out there and going to the grocery store somedays we can only get what we can afford. If we are over we cant get it but in that I am blessed that we have food.

    You my dear have a joyful giving heart and never change. Even when we don't have we try to give whatever we can give. A little gesture goes a long way. Always give with a joyful heart, and see the wonderful blessings that come.

    I must admit I teared up reading this because it was such an amazing act of kindness we don't see anymore. Jesus was just a man and he gave the ultimate gift to us, you gave a woman groceries and that could be the ultimate gift for her.

    I am inspired to want to pay it forward to someone else and I encourage you to go see that woman in a couple weeks, not to gloat (which I am sure you wont do) but to see what your random act has done. I think God sent u that woman and I am so glad I have followed you on twitter. You are truly a sweet person and an inspiration to want to be a better person so thank you.

    Keep inspiring others!


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