Pay It Forward
I still vividly remember my first time helping someone. Sure, I remember plenty of Saturdays full of my parents dragging my brother and I to volunteer with the church, but this time was different. This time, it was my own decision to help. It was finally summer and my brother and I had just spent an afternoon at the park. Exhausted and damp from the southern humidity, we headed home for a popsicle. As we began our short walk home, we noticed our widowed, elderly neighbor, Mrs. Haney, weighed down by a heavy load of white, plastic grocery bags. It is an image that is still imprinted in my mind. She walked so slow that she seemed to be bobbing back and forth. I remember looking at her still in her slippers and nightgown and feeling an unfathomable sadness, a feeling I would come to later know as sympathy. I knew those bags she was struggling to hang onto had come from the dairy mart and I knew she had been walking for a long while. I don’t think I even had to tell my brother to come and help. Before I knew it, we had taken the bags from her and carried them up a small, but steep set of steps onto her porch. I don’t remember what she said to us, I only remember her trying to give my brother and I both a dime. Of course we refused any amount of money and raced home to tell my mom about our good deed. I look back now realizing that helping Mrs. Haney was the foundation for me wanting to spend my life giving back.
I truly believe God gives us unique talents that he entrusts us to discover and then go out and use to showcase His love in our everyday work. However, as I have gotten older, I’ve noticed there is one talent each and every one of us have in common. I know, it may be hard to believe you have something in common with Beyonce or Kevin Durant, but bear with me. If I’ve learned anything in my 23 years, it is that all of human creation has the ability to go out and and do something to positively impact someone. Maybe it is changing someone’s life through your music, but like I learned as a kid, it can also be as simple as carrying someone’s groceries.
In life too often, success is measured by large, monumental moments in our careers and personal lives. But to me, success is measured by the amount of people we touch during our time on Earth. The beauty of measuring success this way is that not only can each and everyone of us do it, but we can do it every single day. We should do it every single day. It can happen through smiling at a stranger, lending a hand, cracking a joke, donating your time, donating your money, feeding a homeless man, holding a door, or just saying thank you.
YOU can make a difference and YOU can change the world for one person.
And when we are drawing our final breaths in this life, I believe the meaningfulness of our time will come from the being able to answer the question, “What good did I do for others?”.
A better world is possible. Now go restore faith in humanity.