New Things and Blessings

This month’s challenge to do something new every day has been difficult given my busy yet monotonous routine, but I’ve already found it to be profoundly rewarding.

Last night, we all piled in the car to drive up to my parents house in Troy, NY. Typically, we stop at one of the rest areas along I-87, but I told my wife that just wouldn’t do since I had to fit in something new before the day was out.

So we pulled off the Mahwah exit just before crossing over from New Jersey into New York and stopped at a nondescript pizza joint for a bite to eat.

Jessica needed to nurse Anna, so she sat out in the car while Ethan and I went in for a few slices of pizza and a game of Ms. Pac-Man (his choice). I brought the slices out to the car so we could all eat together.

If you’ve never traveled several hours in a mid-sized car with two small children, it’s hard to understand how cramped things can get. There we were, sitting in the parking lot, Jessica trying to eat while feeding Anna, Ethan sitting on my lap sharing a slice of pizza and all of us feeling a bit cramped in the front seat.

Suddenly, a well-kept man approached my door and signalled for my attention. Maybe I’ve been a pastor too long, but I immediately thought he was going to ask for money. Instead, when I opened the door, he politely told me that he has 8 children of his own and that he felt compelled to be a blessing, at which point he handed me twenty dollars. Jessica and I both graciously protested, but he was persistent so we took the money, determined to use it to bless someone else.

But that act of kindness was profound for me. I didn’t get this man’s name or his address. There’s no way I can even thank him or return the favor. He gave in a way that drew attention to the gift more than the giver. And frankly, the real gift for me wasn’t the twenty dollars; I’ll be giving that away soon. The act of selfless giving impacted me more than anything and is what I’m most grateful for.

And now I have an even better idea for something new to try…