Paying It Forward

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you….”  Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions about 10 years ago.  Prior to that decision I struggled every New Year’s Day with what I proclaimed I would or would not do in the coming year.  And every year, true to form, I usually failed–which only frustrated me and created disappointment in myself.  By March of each year I was totally convinced that I was one of the dumbest, weak-minded sheep in the Lord’s flock, incapable of exercising any self-control.  So I gave up the struggle…which was very freeing.  When people would ask if I had made my resolutions for the new year, I would simply reply “No, I don’t make them.”

But something happened just before Christmas to make me rethink this entire resolution thing.  I was going through the drive-up at Chick Fil-A, having already placed my order and was waiting my turn to submit my $7.88.  My $10 bill was in my left hand ready to exchange it for my food.  However, when I pulled forward to the pick-up window and tried to hand the store associate my money, she didn’t reach for it.  Instead she informed me that the lady in the car in front of me had paid for my order!  For a few seconds I was speechless….(those of you who know me can attest to what a rarity that was).  Until that moment, I had never before had anyone do that for me.  I frantically searched my memory bank trying to recall the color, make, and model of the car that had been in front of me and concluded that I did not recognize the car so my benefactor must have been a stranger to me.  “How nice” I said.  The clerk replied, “Oh, we have it happen a lot here…you know, paying it forward.  I once had a woman that wanted to pay for the car behind her.  When I told her the order was more than $27 and that she might want to reconsider, she said ‘No, I’ll pay it.’  And one time someone paid for the car behind them, and the next car paid for the one behind it, and so on and so on….it went on like that for 10 cars!”  Sooooooooo.. you guessed it.  I asked how much the order total was for the man in the truck behind me, and when she replied “$5.88”, I decided to pay for his meal.  After all, I was saving myself $2.00!  I would so like to know if the gesture continued after I left, and, if so, how many vehicles came through the line and paid for the folks behind them.

What an utterly, unexpected delight to have someone pay for my meal…and an even greater delight to be able to do that for someone else.  So I DID make a resolution on January 1st:  to each month pay for someone’s meal—someone I didn’t know.  Resolutions to better ourselves are always good — to eat healthier, exercise, etc. but resolutions for the betterment of others are priceless.  So, pay it forward, my friend.

(c) 2015 Leslie O. Kelley
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