It only takes one small act of kindness to radically change someone’s day. What’s better is when something that seems “small” to one person reveals itself in a BIG way.
ShelbyLynn Alexander was waiting at a stoplight this past January when she noticed a man holding a cardboard sign that read, “Need a little help. Will pay it forward.”
In a Facebook post she wrote about the experience, ShelbyLynn says she usually only gives food, rather than money. But on this particular day, she did something different.
Reaching out to him, she handed the man three bills folded up around her business card. A real estate agent, ShelbyLynn figured she might be able to help him find another place to live in the future.
“By his phrasing, ‘Need a little help,’ I wasn’t sure if he was homeless or if he was just going through a difficult time in his life,” ShelbyLynn writes. “I never caught his name, but I remembered his face. I remembered everything; the dingy clothes he had been wearing in the thirty degree weather, his dog he had wrapped in blankets instead of himself, and the shamefulness in his eyes as I offered him the money. I said a prayer for him and drove away.”
Little did she know, God heard her prayers, and He was hard at work in this man who stood begging on the side of the road.
“Tonight at work, I received a call from a man who wanted to see one of our houses and had asked for me by name.”
ShelbyLynn says she made the appointment and met the client at the address after work.
“As soon as I pulled into the driveway, my eyes were first drawn to a plump dog hanging out of the window of a truck that seemed as happy as could be. I recognized him first. Then, out of the truck, stepped the man I had given money to so many months ago. This time, though, he was wearing a collared shirt, freshly-starched jeans, boots, and had a clean-shaven face.”
ShelbyLynn admits that at first, she thought she had been scammed back in January, by a man who had dressed up in dingy clothes and pretended to need money.
“But I later found out that was not the case at all. In fact, he recognized me just as much as I had recognized him. With an outstretched hand, his eyes filled up with gentle tears as he handed me three fresh bills wrapped in my crinkled business card.”
Completely speechless, ShelbyLynn listened as the man explained how his ex-wife had taken everything he owned and run off with another man. All she left behind was his dog.
“At the time, he didn’t need a handout, just help. As it turns out, he’s an engineer with a great new job, happy dog, new truck, and new life. He was looking at the house for a friend of his and told me it was his turn to ‘pay me back and pay my business forward’ as his cardboard sign had promised.”
You’ve probably heard the phrase “be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” For ShelbyLynn, that phrase had never been more true than when she experienced it firsthand on September 29.
“What I learned from tonight is that you never know what someone has going on in his or her life, and it can be so easy to judge from the outside looking in without knowing the circumstances. I said a prayer for him and drove away.”
So often we can be used by God to help others, without ever taking notice of how helping others is actually helping us.
God perfectly orchestrated this beautiful meeting between two strangers, and the lessons learned from both sides are a living example of the things that grow us, encourage us and provoke us as human beings, to keep loving our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39)