Wednesday, 1 October 2014

How Our Actions Speak

Way back in February, my husband and I were celebrating Valentine's Day a little late at a fine dining establishment. We were stretching the budget to do this but we felt it was important to find some "our" time during the busy month and busy months to come. We really enjoyed our meal and some wine and cocktails to go with it. We were there for a couple of hours having a leisurely date. At the end of the meal, our check came. When the waitress delivered it to our table, she said that she had also been serving a lone young man who had a gift card for the restaurant. It was for an amount more than he had consumed and he told the waitress to put the rest of the gift card to our bill. What a kind and generous gesture!! It ended up covering our complete meal (appetizers, entrées and desserts). All we had to pay for was our drinks. To this day, this young man's "pay-it-forward" action continues to warm my heart.

As a Christian, I am often reminded that our actions reflect our faith. I strive to emulate Christ's love in my daily interactions. I say I strive, because I am human and I do have faults which mean that I am not always successful in showing loving generosity and patience in all situations. I think that the "pay-it-forward" trend is another way that we can make ourselves open to channelling the Holy Spirit if we listen to the nudge that comes from within us. I find when I act on the "internal nudge" of the Holy Spirit (our conscience?) then good things happen. I tend not to be too spontaneous as I fill my day with teaching lessons, chores, family errands and volunteer opportunities. However, when I am spontaneous and drop by a friend's place unannounced as I know they are struggling with life then I am rewarded with a warm glow, a deepened friendship and a day that continues to be fulfilling.

I think of the Good Samaritan story and I reflect that it would be very easy to just walk on by because I would make myself late for an appointment or I would convince myself that I really couldn't help because I'm not qualified (if someone fell for instance). But I also know that I have stopped to help people in the past. Sometimes my act of kindness is rebuffed but I still am filled with satisfaction and warmth. Other times, I may do an act of kindness and forget about it. And then the person who was on the receiving end of that act will mention it to others even years later. We don't know how our small actions may speak to others.

What we consider a minor gift of time, may actually bring tremendous joy and appreciation to someone. We often don't know. In the same way, what may be an instant reaction of impatience on my part, may also linger in a negative way that I am not aware of. I think of passing the homeless people on the street who are begging for money. I'm always uncomfortable passing by them. Am I uncomfortable because I'm ignoring that inner nudge to help? Or am I uncomfortable because I'm passing a harsh judgement on them inside my thoughts? There is one man that has pages of poems that he says he has written and passes them out. They are computer generated and I wonder if they are really his own writings and musings. Did he just copy and print them from another source on the computer? Or are they really his own? I will give him money as he passes it to me because he has taken time to print them off. He's not just standing with a hat in hand hoping for generous donations. He's offering something in return. However, I did pass another gentleman early one morning as he sat on the hard sidewalk in the early summer morning. He was with a couple of friends who also had their hats out on the ground looking for donations. I was on my way to do some shopping and I ignored them. I, again, felt that inner nudge (conscience or Holy Spirit?). I concluded my shopping and as I passed by them again I thought "My life is full, I have family to love me, food in my cupboards/freezer and money to buy wants not necessarily needs". So I dug into my purse and gave each of the 3 men some money. I realize that the money might go to support a habit. But maybe that small amount of money might buy them some food. I don't know but I do know that the "inner nudging" disappeared and I felt a little better as I continued on my way down the main street.

Our actions do speak very clearly about who we are. As I write this, I am reminded of the very generous kindnesses and donation of time that our "hosts" in The Netherlands extended to my husband and I this past July. They didn't need to donate 2 days of their busy lives to showing us around the area where my great uncle was in WWII. But because they did, we saw things that we wouldn't have known about (the significance or the location). It meant everything to my husband and me. We continue to be in contact with them and continue to receive many blessings from them as they have become more than acquaintances.

For me, if my actions are based on "what would Jesus do?", I have a much better day. If that means "paying it forward", then that's what I do. (As I just re-read this, I inadvertently read it as "praying it forward"...for me that is just as beneficial!). If it means taking a few minutes out of a hectic but full life to spend time with someone or help them out, then that's what I should do. Our actions speak more than we know and resonate with others in ways that we don't always comprehend.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post, Cathy. And what an incredibly kind gesture from that young man in the restaurant. What makes it even more special is that he remains anonymous, which signifies that his actions were completely selfless; he didn't do it for the attention. There are so many kind people in this world. It's easy to lose sight of that, and moments like that restore our faith in humanity. Our actions certainly do speak clearly about who we are. And no matter how busy we get, we can certainly contribute some of our time toward compassion and generosity. A random act of kindness, no matter how big or small, can make a huge difference in someone's life.