An anonymous donor recently gifted me with a wildly generous random act of kindness. The person who delivered the gift instructed me to gratefully receive the gift and under no circumstances was I to try to identify the donor. But if — IF — I discovered the donor, I was ordered to not retaliate with something over-the-top generous in return. My instructions were to simply receive the gift with a healthy dose of gratitude.
I ended up discovering who was behind the gift. I promise I wasn’t trying. How did I react?
- That was way too kind.
- Why did she do that?
- I don’t deserve such a nice gift.
- Dang her! How in the world can I top that one?
Why couldn’t I just immediately respond like this:
Thank you, Lord, for placing this woman in my life. Her love and compassion blows me away. I am so blessed by her friendship and this generous gift.
It reminds me of a time during my late teens when after a theater performance a family friend complimented me on a job well done. I immediately discounted her compliment and started to point out all the little ways I erred throughout the performance. The friend was never one to shy away from a teachable moment. She said,
“I just paid you a high compliment and you rejected it. It’s like a smack to my face.”
Woah. It was a smack to her face, wasn’t it? And a lesson I won’t forget. Even so, some twenty years later, I fear I’m still smacking people in the face.
Does that ring true for you, too? How many times do we reject a compliment, a gift, a loving suggestion, or a helping hand? How many times do we reject the generosity of others when it’s staring us down like a lost puppy begging to be taken in? How many times do we “smack” others in the face when they simply follow Jesus’ commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
“In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.” — St. John of the Cross
A priest once told me that to love God is to let God love you. Let’s push that downstream a bit — to love at all is allow yourself to be loved. I fear I don’t easily allow myself to be loved by others, especially in the form of random acts of kindness from friends and strangers alike. Reminds me of a line in Les Misérables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” To freely accept the love of another is to the see the face of God, too, no?