Some lessons we learn from doing good, others we learn from our mistakes. This morning was one of the latter. I was waiting in line at the post office today with only one cashier at the desk. My phone battery died so I was left with nothing to do but observe the people around me. I noticed a man 4 people behind me with a baby in a carrier by his feet. I watched as he anxiously glanced from counter to baby to his watch. I could see by the expression on his face that he was fighting back feelings of frustration. I felt sorry for the man and thought for a moment about asking him if he would like to cut in front of me. Worried about what the people between us might say, I dismissed the thought. Instead, I rationalized that we had all had to wait, and that he needed to learn to be more patient. When I was paying for my postage, the lady behind him spoke up. She said,
“Would you all mind if this man went next? He has a baby and is obviously in a hurry.”
Her pleas were not eagerly accepted by the people who were ahead of him in line. He graciously explained that he was fine and that the gesture was not necessary. I saw relief flood into the faces of the people ahead of him, no one really wanted their place in line bumped back. She continued to plead his cause, but no one jumped at the opportunity to help him. I was saddened by that, but I remembered my own reluctance. I wished that I had spoken up earlier. However, as I continued to watch their interaction, I saw the countenance of this man change, and a conversation ensued between the man and the woman who had tried to help him. As I finished my business at the counter and moved out of the way for the next customer, I realized how that simple act of kindness had affect that man’s day. Even though he had not been accelerated in the line, someone had cared about him and he had felt love from that interaction. He was going to leave that post office lifted and with good thoughts in his mind instead of negative feelings of frustration. I thought how that might change his interactions with other people. I learned a valuable lesson today watching a lady in line at the post office…
As I walked to my car and thought back on the situation, I evaluated my own actions and how I could have acted differently. When the spirit prompted me to reach out to someone, I had failed in that charge. Fortunately, God cared enough about the troubled man to give the lady behind him the same prompting that I had failed to act on. My worry had been offending other people and of my own time. As I pondered on this, I realized that I could have traded places with him without offending the people between us. If I had been willing to give up my place in line, going back 4 people instead of just one, I could have offered assistance. I vowed that the next time I have the opportunity to act in that way, that I will be less concerned about myself and my wait time and more concerned about showing love. I also realized that I need to take the time to put my phone down in situations like more often so that I can be more observant, and so that I can notice people who need my help. Sometimes, I rationalize being ‘productive’ on my phone because I just don’t want to put forth the energy to have a conversation with a stranger or to have to deal with a thought prompting me to help someone. Sometimes it is easier to just be introverted. As hard as it is to be brave and reach out, I have learned that those simple actions not only make a difference in other people’s day, but they make a difference in mine. The lifting is mutual. So here is the challenge I offer to you and to myself. Next time you are in a public place waiting, put down your phone and observe the people around you. Listen for those thoughts to help and then act on them. Post back. I would love to hear how you are sharing goodness in the world. #sharegoodness
Questions to Ponder:
- How can a simple acts of kindness help lift you and someone else?