Paying it Forward

Dear Blog Readers, if you still exist, I can’t believe it’s been since July that I’ve posted anything to this blog! I suppose there have been a few things keeping me away, including a big move to Virginia from Ohio, but all the same, I have missed putting “pen to paper” and forming thoughts into entries. So, here’s my first, returning blog…

Ever since I saw the movie Pay it Forward, I fell in love with the concept. Not that it was an extremely new idea. In fact, the idea of doing a good deed for another is a predominant Christian teaching. The Bible story of the man robbed and beaten on the side of the road displays it incredibly. Jesus says that the man who served him, was the one who picked up the robber’s victim, cared for him, took him to a local inn and payed for him to be cared for until he returned. The part that I love is that this wasn’t simply a “nice” thing to do. The passerby chose to inconvenience himself for the sake of a stranger. He likely had work to do, a livelihood to make, probably a family to take care of. It makes me think too of the woman who gave two pennies. Others scoffed at her minuscule offering, but Jesus rebuked them and explained that this woman gave not of her “extra,” but rather, she gave all that she had. I love the challenge in this. Not only financially with tithing, but in the way we give of ourselves to our fellow humanity. Do we give and serve others, only when it is convenient, only when we have “extra” time or “extra” money, or do we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced for the sake of another.

This is the opportunity I was given last night. While standing in line at the airport counter, waiting to figure out whether or not I was going to make it home that night, I overheard the man a few people ahead of me trying to make arrangements with the airline personnel. He sounded distraught and broken that he would not make it into our final destination that night. As I finally made my way to the counter, I had the opportunity to ask the gentleman if everything was ok. He shared that his father had had his fifth heart attack, was scheduled for major surgery the next day and that without getting in to our final destination that night, he would miss the ride he had lined up to take him the remaining one hour to the hospital. The thing that struck me was the lack of hope and dejection in his voice.

Meanwhile, the airline stewardess informed me that they could fly me half way to my destination, book me a hotel room for free and fly me home in the morning. This sounded like an incredible idea, as it had already been an extremely long day. But on a whim, I asked if there were any flights that would get us into another local airport that night. She said she could get us into an airport an hour and a half from our original destination that night. I knew it was an opportunity. I told her to book both of us through to that airport and called a friend to see if she’d be willing to pick us up and drive us both the hour and a half to the other airport, where he could be dropped off and I could pick up my car and then back track the hour and a half back home (It took her no time at all to realize, what I had realized moments before, that this was an opportunity to love heroically, particularly because it would mean only three hours of sleep for her before work in the morning.) She was willing and so I shared the plan with the gentleman. Once seated on the plane, he told me for the hundredth time how grateful he was and that he would try to pay me back for the gas needed for the late night drive ahead of us. I told him simply, “There’s no need. I’m sure you’ll have an opportunity to pay it forward one day.” We eventually landed at 11:30pm, were picked up by my room mate and driven an hour and a half to the other airport. When parting, no last names were exchanged, no email addresses or phone numbers, I wanted him to know that there was no obligation to “return the favor,” that this was simply one human being helping another, asking nothing in return. Arriving home, finally around 3:00am this morning, I said a quick prayer for the man, his two daughters, deceased wife and ailing father and thanked God for the opportunity to inconvenience myself for the sake of another.

I do not write this because I think I am in any way saintly because of my actions. There have been likely too many opportunities like this one that I have passed up for my own sake. I write this only because I think that each of us are given these opportunities day in a day out to love another, in spite of the small disruption in may cost us. I hope that God will continue to open my eyes to these instances, as he did last evening.

Brandon, Alley, Eva, Amanda, and Brandon’s father, you are all in my prayers.

Verso L’alto (To the Heights!)
Danielle Adelina

*Note: It can be dangerous to drive a man you just met anywhere. This should never be done alone, or without taking precautions. It’s sad that we live in a world where we have to be scared to help one another, but it is necessary to be safe. If considering doing anything that may be dangerous, talk to several people about it before doing so. Make sure that it is a safe idea. I am not suggesting anyone drive a random stranger anywhere, alone or otherwise. There are many ways to help others.

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