Have you ever done a good deed that appeared to go wrong?
Maybe it didn’t. Maybe you just don’t know the whole story.
When my girls and I first moved to Lubbock we made it our weekly mission to bring flowers to the residents of the north side of the second floor of Carillon House, an extended care facility in Lubbock. Every Saturday we enjoyed our conversations with elderly friends, hoping to make their day a bit brighter and always leaving as the ones blessed. Annie and Emma, my then 8-year old twins, walked about with great confidence delivering flowers, stopping here and there to push a wheel chair or regale their adopted Grandpa’s and Grandma’s with stories from their week at school.
One Saturday we’d finished our rounds and were headed home on the South Loop when the girls saw the neon Krispy Kreme Donut sign turn orange. A Krispy Kreme Donut sign turned orange is the siren song to the sweet tooth. I can’t give you chapter and verse, but I’m pretty sure when we get to heaven we get a hug from Jesus and a Krispy Kreme hot off the rack.
“Daddy, Daddy! It’s orange!”
“I got you, girls!” We pull into the drive through for a delicious dozen.
Having been in sales most of my life, customer service is a big deal to me. Were I a secret shopper on this day, I’d recommend the girl taking our order be fired. Beyond the overall “I’m not happy to be here” demeanor, she offers no greeting, no smile, no positive attitude, and she messes up the order.
On the second time she disappears to correct her mistake I say out loud, “This girl is not having a good day.”
From the back seat Annie says, “Daddy, I think she needs a flower.” Emma points to the plastic box on the floor of the car. There is one vase left with a rose in it.
Emma nudges me. “Daddy, we should give it to her.”
The girl returns and gives over our donuts. With a smile and a happy voice I hand her the rose. “My girls thought you should have this.”
She takes it, stares at it for about 5 seconds, bursts loudly into tears and runs away from the window.
“Daddy! What did you do?”
“I just gave her the flower!”
“Daddy! You made her cry!”
“I was trying to make her happy!”
Another employee shows up at the window to finish the transaction and we drive away, dripping with confusion.
About three weeks later I’m at a social gathering. A girl approaches and asks, “Hey, did you give a rose to a girl at Krispy Kreme awhile back?”
Curious that anyone would mention this as we told no one. “Yes, I did. But I’m not sure how well it was received. We were just trying to be nice but she started crying and ran away.”
“Here’s the deal. I work with her. She’s been dating this guy for almost two years and was positive he was going to ask her to marry him. That morning before you showed up she discovered he’d been cheating on her. Her world was crushed. So when y’all gave her that rose? It was a total God thing. It reminded her that she was loved.”
It goes without saying we never know what’s going on in someone’s life. If we did, we’d be overwhelmed. In this fallen world there’s more than enough pain to go around. We can safely make the assumption that everyone, regardless of what we see on the outside, is carrying a heavy load. Which is to say all of us need encouragement.
Financial stress. Estranged family members. Wayward children. Peer pressure. Career crisis. Relationship problems. Chronic illness. Depression. Loneliness. Abandonment. Failing to live up to expectations, both our own and others.
On life’s menu board, there’s a wide variety of painful flavors. The good news is we don’t have to know any back story. Since everyone’s starved for kindness, we can freely serve it up knowing we have a great chance of getting the order right.
Be generous with your kind words and actions. Pay the compliments where they are due. Write the random note of appreciation and tape it to their favorite candy bar. Send the email to their boss about the great work they’re doing. Catch someone’s kids doing something right and tell their parents. While you’re at it, catch your own kids doing something right and tell them you’re proud of who they are. Be the secret Ninja giver at IHOP and buy someone’s breakfast without them knowing.
And if you happen to have one vase left with a rose in it, give it to the girl at the drive through.
You never know how God will use it for His purposes.
Todd A. Thompson – One Eye Out