My Knight (or Redneck) in Shining Armor (or a beat up pick-up truck)
This evening I picked up nine (yes nine and no not all for me) pizzas. When
the lady at the counter put them out for me she asked, "Want to take half
now and come back for the other half?"
That would have been a very practical solution. However, I knew that the six other people crammed into that tiny waiting area were looking at me thinking, "SHE's the reason my pizza is not hot and ready in five minutes like promised." Besides, I figured, how heavy can nine pizzas be?
I managed to grab the tower of pizzas with my keys in hand and purse over my shoulder without dropping one single cheesy pie. When I turned to the door, I realized my dilemma. It was not going to be so easy to open that door with the tower of pizzas in my arms.
At that very moment, before I even reached the door to contemplate this problem further, a woman standing next to it held it open for me. "You must be having a party," she smiled. I thanked her profusely and went on my merry way...until I reached my car.
Hmm, I really should have listened to that young lady behind the counter. That's what I was thinking as I so deftly unlocked the back of my car only to discover that I could not pull the door open with the pizzas in my arms. I tried leaning them on the bumper so I could free one arm to pull it but then it wouldn't open because the pizzas were in the way. I tried to pry it open with a finger I could get free while holding the pizzas but one finger does not even budge that back door.
I was seriously contemplating placing the pizzas on the ground (not sure why I felt this would be disgusting as they were actually in boxes and not simply laying in a sloppy mess across my arms), when I heard a voice. "Hey! Do you need a hand?"
I looked up first because I figured on the side of town I was on, the only helpful hand I would get was from Heaven. Then I heard it again. "You really look like you could use some help."
This time I looked around at ground level because I totally did not want to miss the white knight on his stallion that I was sure was coming to rescue this poor damsel in distress. What I saw instead was what we here Southerners refer to as a redneck. And yes, he was jumping out of his beat-up old pick-up...not off a handsome stallion. Before I could refuse him, and let's face it, how could I possibly refuse him when he had obviously been watching the whole comical this girl has bitten off way more than she can chew scene, he was at my side opening the door for me. He held it while I put the pizzas in the back and then, get this; he closed it for me too.
I thanked him and then stood it total awe as he jumped back into his truck that he had pulled over in the line of traffic just so he could help me. No matter how he was dressed or what he drove, he was a knight all the same to me. In one simple but selfless act, he had saved me.
I took off in a very cheesy smelling car with a big grin on my face thinking about how these simple random acts of kindness had blessed me beyond measure. These people had looked outside of themselves for a moment and had seen me. Without knowing who I was, they placed my needs in front of their own. It had a very powerful effect.
And then I thought, isn't this the way it should be? In fact, isn't this the way it used to be? What has happened to us as a society that such simple acts of kindness blow me out of the water?
I've shared recently about the prayer either Nelson or I pray over the kids every night, so it won't surprise you to know that these kinds of events also get me thinking about how I can train my children to be people who hold doors open for others. How do I teach them to do random acts of kindness for total strangers with no promise of reward?
I think the answer lies in exactly what happened to me today. When someone held the door for me when I was pushing the double stroller with one hand and holding Mackenzie's hand in the other, I noticed it was almost always a woman...no doubt a mother. I would always thank them and then ask God to allow me to remember what that was like so that when my hands were finally free some day, I could hold the door for someone whose hands were full. When a man offers to carry something or reach something that I can't, I pray I can raise up sons who will do that for another woman some day.
The way I can teach is by doing it. Children tend to follow our examples. They see what we do and imitate it. When I do something nice for a stranger and my kids are there, we talk about it. I tell them how I knew that person needed something that I could help with and how much I love it when someone does the same for me.
We start by modeling. We continue by teaching. We follow through by training. There is indeed only one of me; however, I am raising four souls. That's quadrupling my opportunities to pay it forward!
So many times we see the big problem so we look for the big, change the world solution. What we forget is that it starts with one. It starts by making a decision to look up once in awhile and notice the people around us. If we're watching, we'll catch opportunities to help.
If we think about how much our actions might bless someone instead of how inconvenient it is to us, we might not change the world. We might, however, change that person. Who knows? That might just be the start of something big.