Nobody has to extend an act of kindness to us. Where is it written that the people in this world are required to be nice to us? You won't find it. If you do, please let the world know so we can stop the horrific atrocities imposed on humans by other humans.
What we have here are good people who give us a little bit of themselves to make our day a little brighter, a little happier and a little easier. After all, we know life isn't easy. We all go through rough times. Some of those moments are longer than others, but we can move past them. It is always easier to move through the process when someone else appears and extends a hand.
This calls to mind the painful experience leading up to my divorce. The decision to move forward with the end of my marriage was overwhelming, and I was paralyzed. At that point in my life, I was always the people pleaser. Divorce is one of those tragedies that hurt so many people, I could not bring myself to do what I know had to be done. An unexpected friend joined me one day while I was sitting on the stairs outside my office. He gave me some advice that was the push I needed to make a final decision so I could stop dragging out the inevitable, which was only hurting those I loved. The wisdom he shared was just a phrase-one lone sentence, and it changed the course of several lives. As it turns out, those lives were all changed for the better. This friend didn't have to sit down with me. He certainly didn't have to provide a helping hand. Frankly, given the fact he was a friend of my current husband's, he probably shouldn't have gotten involved for even a moment. Once his words of wisdom were conveyed, he promptly got up, waved and headed off. We haven't spoken in years now, but I will always be grateful. He took a risk to help some friends. How many of us would have done the same? How many of us would take a little bit of risk on without expecting anything in return?
Once my decision was made to go through with the divorce, I was amazed at how many people stepped forward to spare a hug and give me a break when I had no place else to turn. None of these kind individuals wanted anything in return. They didn't gain anything by helping me. Their acts were inspired by basic human kindness.
The fact I was in no position to help them in any way to return the favors bothered me for a long time. Then it occurred to me that the best way to honor them was to provide a helping hand and perform acts of kindness for others. None of this had to cost money, which was a good thing since I was broke at the time. It came down to paying attention to people around me and jumping in when they needed a little help. From hugging friends down on their luck, offering bits of advice or coaching them to pursue something out of the ordinary that sparked positive changes, babysitting when some friends needed to get out and have some time alone and so many other things we all tend to take for granted. The more I gave, the more pleasure I received just seeing a person smile or get back up on their feet. To this day, I continue to be on the lookout for those small, almost insignificant moments and take action to help another.
I really didn't have a name for these general acts of kindness until I saw the movie PAY IT FORWARD. If you haven't seen this movie, I encourage you to take the time to watch it. Be sure you have a box of tissues nearby. The emotion in this movie builds and the climax in the end will make the tears flow when you witness the powerful impact one child had on the world around him and what he had to face. All to pay it forward.
If you have ever received an act of kindness, think about paying it forward. One thoughtful gesture can make a powerful impact on someone's life. You may never see it, but know that it happens. So always be on the lookout for those little opportunities to pay it forward. Do any of you have any experiences you'd like to share about acts of kindness and paying it forward? Please share them with us. You story may spark actions in others or give someone another idea on how to pay it forward.