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Paying It Forward

Someone gave us a box of food recently, maybe $100 worth!

My reaction, big eyes. My thought was something like What?!

“No big reason,” the man said. “Just wanted to do something to repay a debt, so I’m paying-it-forward. That’s what I was told to do. Thought extra food might make things a little easier around your house….You are having lots of company. ”


I guess this is what they mean when they say, “We drink from wells we did not dig.” I guess we will eat from a pantry we did not totally fill.

My husband is like me. He expects callouses when he works. I expect tiredness. We don’t expect anyone to just take care of a bill or pay for extra groceries.

Stunned. I was stunned.

Hard to take it in when a gift just comes from out of the blue. And you don’t pay the giver back. It’s just done out of kindness.

I spent a day or two thinking about paying it forward. We’d never been receivers of such a kindness before.

I gaze on mountains and didn’t do anything to earn them, either. I sing hymns I did not write. I just say, “God blessed me with this. I don’t deserve it, but it came anyway.”

The shade of a tree. A blessing, even when someone else planted it.

Somehow I readily accept all that.

But when a fellow human being offers a kindness and I can’t pay it back, it really registers in a deeper place inside me. Instead of paying the kindness back, I am to pay it forward.

I get it. I even saw the movie Pay It Forward!

It’s my part to receive the gift and pay it forward, meaning my husband and I will now do a kindness for someone else and not let him/her pay us back.

If you are the receiver, there’s likely some shock and a delayed fermenting joy. I suspect that there’s a fermenting joy for the giver, too. My husband and I will find out when we pay it forward. I’m thinking it will be an intentional gift, not an impulsive one.

But who knows? I guess it could be impulsive if that door opens.

Over a month ago, my sister told a story of having been in line at a cash register behind a pregnant woman with a cart full of groceries. The woman’s card was rejected. Then a second card was rejected. My sister remained in line while the woman called her husband who told her to use a third card. It too was rejected. The woman told the cashier she could not buy the groceries. The cashier nodded.

My sister was touched by what she’d heard and seen. She stepped up and told the cashier to try her card.

“Are you sure? It’s a big bill,” the cashier said.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

The woman could not say “thank you” enough. She hugged my sister.

“One day when you are able, just pay it forward to someone else.”

“I will. I will!”

When my sister left the store, the woman was waiting in the parking lot, wanting to say “thank you” one more time.

As my sister remembered the story, I could hear the pleasure in her voice.

Her hunch is that the Holy Spirit is doing the nudging and standing right in the middle of paying it forward. I agree. It’s an open door, and some walk through it.

A gentle wind stirs. It speaks to me. Maybe it speaks to you, too.

God bless,

Pat Durmon


Photo of a banana peel by Pat Durmon, July 27, 2019.

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