Are you good at returning a kindness? When someone does something nice for you, do you reciprocate? Or, do you pass along the kindness? Or do you just think, “that was nice of them,” and go on about your business?
I often tell the story of my mother leaving Arkansas for California, back in the late 1930s, with two small children and everything she and my father owned crowded into a Model A Ford. Just as they were ready to pull out, a lady from church came up the driveway to say goodbye and give my mother a twenty dollar bill. That was big money in the depression/dust bowl era. My mother was reluctant to take the money, saying she would never be able to pay it back.
The church lady assured her she didn’t need the money to be paid back, but rather for my mother to find someone else to help once she reached California. My mother was always on the lookout for someone to help. It might have been a family with small children whose home burned. Perhaps the lady whose husband just died. Or it might have been the hobo who came to the backdoor, asking for a bite to eat. My mother was generous.
Because I grew up seeing that generosity (my dad also did things for people in the small farming community in which we lived), I’m often on the lookout for those in need and ask myself, “how can I help?” Sometimes there is nothing I can do. Or I don’t feel compelled to help at that particular time, believing others will step in and take care of the situation. Because there are so many needs, I now try to contain my help to my small corner of the community. Otherwise, I would feel overwhelmed.
I am fortunate and richly blessed and don’t need much assistance. For now. I’m hopeful that should I need help, there would be those to come to my aid, like the lady in Arkansas who showed up with the $20. That those who have been helped would step up and help out when presented with a need, like my mother did all those years in California. I just hope that you don’t become so accustomed to kind acts that you come to expect them as your due, never paying them back or forward.