"What goes around comes around"
Just the other day I had an experience that perfectly illustrates the theme of paying it forward. This past year we've had some challenges in our family that have created some hardships, and graciously had received a financial gift from some close friends that arrived unexpectedly. The generosity came at the perfect time when it was truly needed.
My car had been having some minor mechanical issues, so I took it to the shop to get fixed which seemed to resolve the problem. With this new confidence in a reliable vehicle I decided to go with my family to complete our weekly grocery shopping. After packing up our new assortment of fresh and frozen groceries, I hopped behind the wheel and turned the key. Nothing. What? I just got the car fixed, and now this was happening. Just as I was getting out to open the hood of my car, a young man approached me who was in need of some gas money. He quickly offered to get his jumper cables, so we could get my car started. After connecting everything I turned the key again without success. At this point, the man said he would try to investigate if it might be another issue causing the problem. He began by shining his flashlight at my motor in the dark, and began looking and tapping on a number of things.
As we were both standing there mystified by what was happening, another gentleman pulled up to ask if he could help in anyway. He mentioned he was an auto mechanic, and would get his tools out to see if he could help. He quickly diagnosed the problem, and was on the phone calling local parts stores to see who might be open until 9pm on Sunday night. He found a store 20 minutes away in another town that had the part we needed in stock. As my family sat in the car with our quickly defrosting groceries, my wife tried calling our family members that lived close to the parts store. Without being able to successfully reach anyone the young man agreed to drive me to the parts store. On our way we discussed our lives, and he shared how he was dealing with recent unexpected loss of his mother. I tried to console him, and shared information about some local grief counseling resources I knew about that may support him through this tragedy.
When we arrived back to the grocery parking lot, our visiting mechanic was just removing the old part. He quickly installed the new part, and had me turn the key. Bingo! It started right up. The gift we received from our close friends paid for the part, provided enough gas money for the young man to get back home, and paid for the services of this talented mechanic who had been wondering how he was going to pay rent this month. It was an amazing experience that left us feeling grateful, and made me realize how each of us can pay it forward by doing 4 things in our daily lives.
- Be Aware - First we need to be aware of the needs of others around us. When we open our eyes to the challenges people are facing, it opens the door to be able to pay it forward.
- Be Willing - Second, we must be willing to use the resources and talents at our disposal to help others in their time of need.
- Be Ready - Next, we have to be ready to jump in when help is needed. This often arises at inconvenient times like a cold Sunday night in a grocery parking lot.
- Be Generous - Finally, when we appreciate the good we have in our own lives it compels us to share that with others.