If you were to ask me about my core belief system, I would tell you that from the pit of my being, I believe we are all here to help each other. I thoroughly enjoy when I have an opportunity to help someone, even more so when it is a complete stranger. Although, I’ve always recognized that I don’t like to be on the receiving end. I’ve never really put much thought into why it is okay for me to give, but not receive, until this afternoon.
I like to shop in thrift stores. I rarely buy anything but I like to browse. Most of the time I see ancient relics that bring back memories of childhood. Sometimes I see items I can’t believe were donated, like the prosthetic right leg complete with shoe and sock I saw a year ago. I mean, I thought those were specific to the user…and not something you bought second hand….Either way, the shopping trip is usually good for a smile or two. Today, in our local Habitat for Humanity store, I picked up a handful of books totaling $1.50. When I stepped up to the register, I realized I didn’t have any cash. Typical… I live by my debit card. Habitat doesn’t accept debit cards for purchases less than five dollars. I was in the process of asking if they would hold the books for me, when an employee spoke up. He said, “no, because I’m going to buy them for you right now.”…. My response to him, with all sincerity in my heart, was “Please don’t do that. “
Ugghh, I felt like a deflated balloon the moment I heard my own voice. I saw his eyes fall. I knew I had unwittingly taken his thunder. By snubbing his offer, I took away the opportunity for him to receive the happiness he would have felt for doing a good deed. I know how great it feels to help a total stranger. It is an emotion I savor…and I ripped it right out of his hands. How could I? Sucking all the air out of the room and stumbling on my words, I tried to gather any morsel of encouragement, praise and gratitude I could piece together. However I knew it was pointless. The moment was gone. Oh yes, he followed through and bought the books for me. But the moment was gone.
Tail between my legs, now seated in my car, I wondered why on earth I would have responded in this manner. Then the curtain of truth lifted. I realized with a heavy heart that it was pride that rejected him. I didn’t want him to spend his hard earned money on me. My silly books were not a necessity, not worth his money. There were other people he could bless that needed it more than me. Surely, he could spend his money on something more valuable…Shaking my head I thought, who was I to make that determination for him? Who was I to steal his joy? What authority did I have? Was he not capable of deciding who he wanted to help that day? Surely he was! My behavior was simply arrogant. Talk about being humbled….
Like most life lessons, this one snuck up on me. It came completely out of the blue, smacking me back into reality. I’m grateful for the lesson. Even at my age, I’m still learning. I can only pray that this gentleman receives double blessings by some other well-meaning stranger. In my core, I believe that we are to be a channel that allows blessings to flow to you and through you. Simply put, I believe you are to do unto others as you’d like done to you. I didn’t succeed in that today. Thankfully, tomorrow brings another opportunity for success. This is one lesson that won’t easily be forgotten.