Yesterday was my birthday.
It was an incredibly special day.
This year, my birthday just happened to land on spring break. That hasn’t happened in six years! And last time it did, I was on a leadership trip to Washington, DC with the OU College of Nursing. It was an incredible opportunity. Truly! Only six students out of all the campuses were selected to go. A tremendous honor for sure, but I went feeling quite conflicted because I wasn’t able to be with my family on my birthday! (Cue the tears!)
Well, the pity party in my heart was rather something, but that’s been six years ago so we’d have a bigger issue if that were still an issue.
Point is: this week of spring break was exactly like that one six years ago. Except, I got to be home with my family for this spring break/birthday celebration occurrence. There’s nothing like do overs, is there?
Brandon works from home on Fridays so we got to start the morning slowly. Slowly! It’s a word that faintly exists in this house. We didn’t have to hop up and rush anyone to school. No running out the door for the office or the hospital (not for injury, for my work). We got to get up leisurely! Leisurely!!! Can you believe it?!?!? It was kinda abnormal but familiar from a time long, long ago, and it was awesome!
We sat on the couch and read our book drinking our coffee. And yes, it was my birthday so I had my indulgence of some cream in that coffee.
Brooklyn ran Caden to church for a commitment he had and then came back with pie, candy bars, a gift card to my favorite breakfast spot and an arrangement of my favorite flowers (lilies and roses)!
There were so many things about the day that set it apart from ordinary days. Not just because of how lazy it was spent. (Although, honestly, I don’t think it’d take much getting used to that routine.) But because of the sweet wishes extended to make it so incredibly special. It’s a gift to be thought of! And even more so a gift to be remembered on the milestone days of the year!
It is an opportunity to deposit joy directly into another’s heart!
It’s the nicest gesture! It’s a genuine act of care and kindness.
Have ya ever thought about how natural it is to share such goodness toward the people we know, love and care about, BUT how incredibly awkward it is to do that for a stranger?
It’s a thought that arose a few weeks ago. Our daughter Brooklyn works at a gas station equipped with a rather snazzy kitchen serving up orders from flatbreads to frappés. While I was out and about I saw a friend of ours who told me she saw Brooklyn at the store just the day before. I shared the conversation with my girl and she informed,
“Yea. I felt bad because we had run out of Oreos so I couldn’t make what she wanted, but she was so sweet and said, ‘Oh no big deal! I’ll just have….’.”
Brooklyn proceeded in sharing her observation of people.
Those who know her demonstrate more understanding and patience than those who don’t.
Isn’t that so true?!
We know it! I mean is it different calling with a problem regarding the cell phone bill to a customer service rep you don’t even know than to the water department where your friend from high school’s parent works? (Random example. Truly. If that’s a connection to something specific then that’s crazy random.)
I get stranger danger. I mean, friends! I watch 48 Hours. And Dateline. And 20/20. I may or may not have a problem with murder mysteries. However, that’s beside the point. Back to the point. I get having a protective mechanism. But are we in such self-preservation mode that we miss out on the opportunity to connect?
No judgment if so. I’ve been there.
Let’s go back to February 2007. I remember the day so clearly. I had three kiddos in the car. Brooklyn, Jaron, and little Caden who was just a six-month old baby. We were at the gas station. Now. Allow me to insert one important piece of information. We were slim on funds. Super slim. Brandon had just got a job as an engineer tech as he finished his bachelor’s degree. We had been forking out funds to Oklahoma State University, keeping our health insurance, house payment and utilities rolling, oh! AND we had three children! The funds were low. Incredibly low. Like so low I could not entirely fill up my gas tank. Ever. We worked within a strict budget to keep the ball rolling and it worked. Miraculously it worked.
But while the Lord was providing for our needs, I completely missed the opportunity to stretch myself beyond the numbers of our budget to provide for another.
This lady pulled up on the other side of my pump and asked if I could give her some gas money.
“I’m sorry. I don’t have any cash.” No lie. I rarely ever have cash. When we didn’t have money and when we’ve had money. It’s just not something I typically carry. (My dad would be mortified.)
She ensued, “Well….(insert story of her need) so, would you mind to put some gas in my tank before your pump clears out? If you could just do five dollars I would be so grateful.”
Y’all. My brain was telling me she was probably caught up in some trouble having made some poor choices. My brain was processing the fact that she was probably hustling me. My brain was telling me I didn’t even have the money. For crying out loud I couldn’t even fill up my own tank completely.
However, something in my heart said to fill up her tank. Something was nudging me to not worry about my budget or even the fact she may have been trying to take advantage of me. Something in me nudged, Fill her tank all the way.
So you know what I did?
I missed it.
My brain won out and the minute I pulled away from the pump I knew I had. I felt like I robbed myself of something in that moment. Something I will never know.
I pray I have stewarded the moments better in the last eleven years, because that one has stayed with me.
So whether we are sending our friends happy birthday wishes, giving grace to the girl at the gas station, or filling up someone’s fuel tank, let’s remember the gift we get back from giving so generously. It’s a double gift! What merchandise retailers are super effective in snagging us into—give one get one kind of thing!
Bless you all for your incredible kindness to me! Thank you for sharing life with me and sharpening me to be more in sharing mine with the world!
Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 TLB
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