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 toÂ identifyÂ the donor.Â 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.Â How did I react?
- That was way too kind.
- Why did she do that?
- I donâ€™t deserve such a nice gift.
- Dang her! How in the world can I top that one?Â
Why couldnâ€™t I justÂ immediatelyÂ 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 erredÂ throughoutÂ 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. Itâ€™s like a smack to my face.”
Woah. It was a smack to her face, wasn’t it? And a lesson I wonâ€™t forget.Â 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 itâ€™s staring us down like a lost puppy begging to be taken in? How many times do we â€œsmackâ€ others in the face when they simply follow Jesus’ commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).Â
“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 donâ€™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 inÂ Les MisÃ©rables,Â â€œTo love another person is to see theÂ face of God.â€ To freely accept the love of another is to the see the face of God, too, no?