A Rich Heart

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Recently, news programs are reporting about Walmarts across the country where donors, anonymous and otherwise, are paying tens of thousands of dollars to pay off every single layaway in the store. With teary eyes, recipients learning about the gifts announce how this wonderful act will make their Christmas unusually special. It’s a heart-warming story.
 
Another story circulating on Facebook talks about an NFL player who has paid for homes for single mothers. Another heart-warming story.
 
Since the vast majority of us do not have the means to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars to help others, these stories may elicit a variety of responses, none of which includes walking into a Walmart and paying off all the layaways.
 
If your first reaction to hearing these kinds of stories is “I wish someone would pay for my Christmas presents or my house,” I suppose that’s normal human nature. Where’s my sugar daddy/mama? But if that thought includes an attitude of expectation and/or feelings of jealousy, anger, and resentment, well, that’s entitlement. Sorry, but expecting a rich stranger to give you lots of money because it happened to someone else is unreasonable.
 
Another potential response is to say, “I wish I had the means to do that for other people.” It feels good to think that if only I were rich/won the lottery, I would do X, Y, and Z for others. The reality is you aren’t, so you won’t. Too bad for all those people (and yourself) you could have helped.
 
A third response to hearing extreme generosity stories is “It’s too bad I can’t do that, but what can I do to make someone’s day today?”
 
A couple of days ago, I was checking out at a department store, and the cashier told me about something that happened earlier in the day… A man with several items to purchase suddenly realized he didn’t have enough money to pay for it all, and he apologized and said he had to put some of it back. The man in line behind him insisted on paying for his entire purchase. He was grateful and insisted he should at least put back the 6-pack of beer. The man said absolutely not – you’re getting the beer. After paying for the man’s purchase and his own, he waited to pay for the purchase of the elderly woman behind him, too. I don’t know how much that man paid for two complete strangers, but I bet it was maybe $100, give or take. But the reaction was priceless. That man generously gave to two strangers, but he made a lot of people feel good that day – himself (I hope), the cashier, witnesses, and everyone the cashier told, including other customers, other employees, her family and friends, and me.
 
Maybe you can’t even afford that? Do you have an hour? Visit folks in a care center. Volunteer to read to kids in a library. Clean house or cook a meal for an elderly neighbor.
 
Don’t have a million dollars? There are still a million things you can do to help others. Quit waiting to become a millionaire before you enrich someone’s life, including your own.

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