Drive-thru charity

The woman in front of me kindly paid for my coffee at Starbucks yesterday.

“The car in front of you paid for your drink,” the Drive Thru barista said matter-of-factly, while handing me my caramel latte. “The car in front of her paid for hers.”

Later that evening, I met a girlfriend for dinner at Chick-Fil-A. As I loaded the kids into the minivan, I heard the Drive Thru attendant – not far from my car – say to the customer at the window, “The car in front of you paid for you.”

I smiled. Tis’ the season to do random acts of kindness.

Last Christmas season, Matt and I were more organized with these sorts of random acts. We made a list, spent evenings like elves in the night spreading Christmas cheer — and yes, paid for the meals of cars behind us a couple of times. But this year, we haven’t been as planned — so I’ve challenged myself to a different kind of charity project. One that isn’t always as immediately rewarding.

I’ve realized that, for me, drive-thru charity is pretty easy. Convenient and comfortable, I pay, I drive away, I feel good, everyone’s happy. (And that’s a special thing — I certainly don’t want to take away from that.)

But when it comes to the virtue of charity, I’ve found that I have plenty of opportunities to give in powerful ways, every day: being more patient with my children — giving my husband the benefit of the doubt — not assuming I always know the best way — being flexible to others even if I feel inconvenienced — taking advice humbly.

Random acts of kindness are wonderful — but this year, I’m also devoting myself to purposeful acts of kindness. The ones that are less about driving through – and that are more about changing within.

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