I’ll admit that when I first saw the Facebook “Pay it Forward” chain status, I thought it was pretty great.
But let me walk you through my thoughts in the next thirty seconds.
“Oh! How cool that people all over Facebook are going to pay-it-forward! Wait, if I participate then I have to repost the status and then pay it forward to five people who comment on my status. I haven’t even sent out my thank-you cards for my baby shower yet. I’m so not responsible enough to play along. Oh well, I still like the concept.” *Presses like button* “Oh snap! I just liked that status. Can I like the status and still not participate? I don’t want to play along! Will she think I’m selfish for only liking the status and not playing too? Wait, I don’t like this.”That moment, ladies and gentlemen, is the moment I suddenly realized that I did not like nor did I agree with the chain pay it forward.
Don’t think I’m totally selfish, I’m not. I’ve paid it forward before, in a million ways. I pay it forward every time I take in a homeless animal, both for the animal and often the human it usually comes from.
I’m certain you’ve paid it forward many times, also. You did it when you loaned your buddy money because his card was stolen. Or how about that time you called in a pizza and listened to your bestie cry because she needed you? Or maybe when you sent flowers to your mom for no reason and she smiled all day long because of it.
That’s paying it forward.
Paying it forward isn’t doing something you feel pressured into. It’s certainly not being chatted about online as the one who “broke the Starbucks chain”. It’s not by participating on Facebook and saying, “I’ll do something for five people if you do something for me!”
When I think about paying it forward, this is the story I most vividly remember:
One time I paid a lady’s ticket at Chick-Fil-A. It isn’t something I usually do, since I’ve been poor since forever. But this stranger did something nice for me that she didn’t have to do, and I felt like paying her ticket was a wonderful way to say, “thank you.”
That day I pulled in to a different side of Chick-Fil-A than I usually do. The restaurant was so busy that I found myself stuck behind a revolving circle of cars that were entering from the other side, pulling up so fast that I couldn’t get in. Car after car zipped in front of me, not allowing me to go anywhere.
I felt more and more frustrated at the rude selfishness of each passing person. After about ten cars purposefully slipping into the line, one lady saw me and stopped. She mentioned me to go ahead in front of her. I waved and pulled into the line, relieved that I wasn’t stuck anymore.
Somewhere in the next few minutes of waiting, I decided that I would pay for her ticket. I didn’t have anyone in my car to show off for, nor has anyone ever paid for my ticket, and she certainly didn’t ask for money while sitting in the car behind me. I had never paid for anyone’s meal before, and I imagined myself feeding a car full of needy kids and an overwhelmed mom crying her thanks.
So I paid for her ticket, imagining the whole time what her face would look like, how she would feel, and how much of a hero I might be. How’s that for all the wrong reasons?
Do you want to know what I most remember about that moment? I remember what she bought. She only bought a chicken sandwich. Her ticket was less than a measly $4.
I told the lady at the counter to tell her “thanks” for letting me in. The lady smiled broadly at me and nodded, and I smiled back with a fat Coke in one hand and a full meal in the passenger seat next to me, swallowing hard at the realization that I probably wasn’t her hero.
I was a little disappointed that she bought so little. It poked a hole in my over-sized giving balloon at a ridiculous speed.
But y’all, I don’t know what the meant for her. I don’t know if she only had a $5 bill and was hungry. Or if she forgot her wallet and only had enough change for a sandwich. Maybe she just wanted a snack and didn’t miss that $4 at all.
After I thought about it, I didn’t really care, either.
Because the truth is, I wasn’t the one who paid it forward. She was.
When you pay-it-forward, you do it without expectations or requirements. She didn’t expect me to pay for her meal simply for letting me in the line. She didn’t say, “I’ll let you in line if you give to five more people.” In fact, I bet she didn’t even expect me to let people in line like she did for me.
But I remember her act of kindness and my feelings when she did, and now I let others in line, too. Isn’t that what “paying it forward” means? That you continue an act of kindness because someone did it for you?
Not because you feel guilty. Not because you participated in a chain. But because you remember the quiet feeling of thanks and relief toward another human being and have a desire to show that same kindness for someone else.
If you’re participating on the Facebook chain and enjoying it, please carry on. I certainly won’t tell you how to give to others.
But when I choose not to participate, don’t judge me.
Because y’all, I would much rather pay-it-forward in the free, spontaneous ways that I find hold the most meaning. I want to tell people they’re loved without them having to ask me for it. Without the expectation that they have to continue the chain. And without feeling apprehensive or guilty for not following the crowd.
I love Do-It-Yourself Christmas gifts because, well,
it’s cheaper I always feel like I put heart-felt love into them. In fact, not to toot my horn, but over the years me and J have made some big hit DIY gifts. Including homemade goat’s milk soap and since J tools leather, his hand-tooled purses have created quite the fuss at our family Christmases.
I understand that it’s only August, but one of the things I start early is planning (and pinning) my favorite ideas for DIY Christmas gifts. I get so excited about making these presents!
How cute are these? With the stenciled names and an easy-to-care-for plant (I’m thinking something like Rosemary), this would be a huge hit with family or friends that carry that lovely green thumb!
obsessed huge dog lovers in this house. We have no less than three spoiled rescue mutts in our home. And there are a couple of other dog lovers in my family that would love this. I have to say, this would be super cute with some seasonal homemade dog treats. Tie it together in a cute basket or tin and this DIY Christmas gift would be a huge hit with the dog lover in your home!
This DIY Christmas gift is so versatile, you might find yourself thinking of other, cool ideas for the wording. My mom is a school nurse, I could easily change the words to “gauze” or “antiseptic”. You could make it for a coffee lover by putting “K-Cups”, “Creamer”, and “Sugar” and filling them with little packets. Or you could place it in your daughter’s bathroom with “Ribbons”, “Clips”, and “Hair Ties”. The possibilities are endless!
The author of this really cool idea stated that she made these for her neighbors after an old, favorite tree was cut down. Coming from the woods of East Texas with all its beautiful trees that often find themselves blown over by a storm, I can see how this could be double as heart-felt. All it really takes is a hand-saw, sand-paper (if you’re like me, you cheat and use a mouse), and some clear varnish. It really can’t get any easier! Or prettier.
We can’t leave the men out! They deserve homemade gifts too. This great recipe makes homemade aftershave crunchy style. Using a mix of herbs and rum, it’s a man-approved DIY gift. I might decide to make it at home just because it’s easy and I would love to see if J likes it.
Do you have any favorite DIY gifts? It might be something you were given, something you made, or something you would like to make. Share your ideas in the comment section!
Also, follow my Gift Idea Pinterest board for more DIY gift links!
Sleeping doesn’t come easy these days, so it wasn’t surprising that I found myself sitting in the recliner of your room in the middle of the night. I was electronic free and I just sat, looking around at a perfectly clean, tidy room.
Your little night-light and sound machine had the room gently illuminated in soft blue light. And a small, stuffed bear sat in my lap. I could just barely see the outlines of all that important baby gear. Your little bouncer. Your little rocker. Your little car seat.I’ve been extremely whiny and uncomfortable lately. The small complications at the end of this pregnancy have me both exhausted and occasionally in pain all day. They’ve also found me emotionally worn down. I’m afraid of you coming too early. Like your daddy, you’re apparently completely impatient and refuse to show up late for anything. Especially your own birth.
But the truth is this: as soon as you get here, I know that I’ll completely forget how bad your kicks and stretches hurt while I’m having a contraction. Or how exhausting my irritable uterus is when I can’t tell the difference between contractions or just constant aches. Or how when your head rolls across my poor bladder I almost die–or pee on myself. I do that a lot lately; pee on myself.
And you’ll arrive so, so soon. Faster than I even think we’re prepared for. As it is they take me off medication on Friday. Of course they want you to stay in there for another week. You’ll only have been growing for 36 weeks tomorrow. But my body may not physically pull that off and the doctor says you’ll be okay if you come after Friday.
Friday. Tomorrow Friday. That’s not even 24 full hours.
I thought about that and thought, “Oh man. Next week. My son will probably be here next week.”
And then I prayed. For you. For me. For your father.
I thought about how exhausting this entire process has been, from our first, heartbreaking loss, through the second loss, to the miracle that I’m carrying now. You. And I thought about the sweet years it’s just been me and your dad. I thought about how special those years are, and how I wouldn’t give them up for anything.
He is an awesome husband and has wonderful parents, I know he’s going to be an amazing dad. I can’t wait to see him fill those shoes because I can’t imagine a better father for you.
When I picture you, you are just like him. Just so you know. Strong, with the deepest sense of loyalty and love I’ve ever met in a man.
For a moment, I reveled in the calm before the storm. This quiet room.
A roll, kick, and punch later, I realized that calm isn’t calm even now. I’m already sitting absolutely still when you fall asleep, afraid to move or talk in case I wake you up.
Then I thought about the future, and how joyful I am for you to join us.
I want to come back to this moment one day and show you. Show you how I felt, what I was thinking, how happy and excited we were for you to join our family. Tell you it was 5:30 am when I was typing this letter because sleep was elusive and I was so full of joy and peace.
You’ll be in my arms so soon.
I don’t want you to forget that I’m willing to this, all over again, just for you. Because you’re worth it. And I want you to know that I felt that way before I even saw your face, kissed your nose, held your hand, or fixed your boo-boos.
The fact is, I love you even now. With every part of my heart and soul. I can’t help it.