Pay It Forward - Return The Kindness
On more than one occasion I pulled up to the drive-through window at Starbucks and the cashier said "No charge! The person in front of you is paying it forward."
What a wonderful way to start the day and I wish I could run after that person to thank them. But they are long gone. Has this happened to you as well?
Consequently, I always watch my rearview mirror to see if someone I deem “worthy” of that gesture is behind me. When I do, I feel like a naughty schoolgirl who just got away with something when I pay for their coffee.
I trust my generosity is appreciated although that is not why I do it. If I am looking for a thank-you when I give something from my heart, I should not be giving it. Giving in secret is much more rewarding – and fun!
Paying It Forward
That morning, I glanced into my rearview mirror when I got to the drive-through window to pay. An attractive middle-aged woman was driving a shiny sports car with the top down. I could see her gold jewelry glistening in the sunshine.
I smiled to myself thinking “No way does she need me to buy her coffee!” I imagined she had more money than she knew what to do with but then that still, small voice shouted in my spirit, "Pay for her coffee."
“Are you kidding me, Lord?” I shouldn't be buying a special coffee for myself, let alone a stranger; finances were tight, and I was already feeling guilty for spending cash on my coffee.
I cringed, biting my tongue a little. "Please put the red convertible's order on my tab." As soon as I said it, I felt relief. I knew I had been obedient and that was all that mattered. I paid the server and proceeded to the parking lot. I had a quick errand to run and when I got back to my car, the red convertible was parked next to mine.
"Hi," the lady said. She was gorgeous and looked like she was reeking money through her pores. I suppressed that thought. How often haven’t I been judged unfairly?
"I want to thank you for the coffee this morning. I never expected that."
"You're welcome. I was just paying it forward." I smiled and started to get into my car.
"Do you have a minute?" She asked.
I nodded and she proceeded to cry. "I don’t know why I am telling you this, but I need you to know how much I appreciate that cup of coffee this morning.”
“There’s no need to thank me. I was happy to do it.” I felt a twinge of guilt as I wasn’t that happy, just obedient.
It Was Unexpected...
“My husband and I may have to declare bankruptcy as a business partner of ours swindled us out of all our holdings and left us in the cold. This could not have come at a worse time as we lost our son to cancer last month.
He was only 26 years old. Our hearts are breaking, and we aren't thinking clearly. I blamed God and asked Him why He didn't care. I told him it was not fair and there were moments when I didn’t know if I could go on.
I needed a sign that He still loved us and that everything would work out. When you bought my coffee this morning, I knew that was my sign. I had no idea God cared enough to tell a stranger to buy my coffee. Thank you ever so much. I will never forget this, especially if I am feeling alone."
Now I was the one who was crying and told her that I could relate on both counts. We, too, had recently lost our son and we had also lost our business to partners who stole it from us.
I shared how God does indeed care and He would mend her broken heart, no matter how often it is broken.
We chatted for a few more minutes, exchanged phone numbers, and set up a coffee date.
Pay It Forward
I sat in my car for a few minutes, visibly shaken from emotion. I believe I gave her much more than a cup of coffee that morning. I will be her friend and her confidant. I will lend support -- she will know she is not alone.
Terrible things can happen to good people. But God is bigger than any circumstance. He will bring us angels in many different forms to minister to us.
Next time I am in the drive-through and feel the urge to pay it forward – there will be no hesitation.
I believe that we will meet people in eternity who we have helped in some way but never realized the impact our kindness had on them.