It's become a familiar phrase. Though I don't remember where or how it originated, I do know there have even been books written documenting random acts of kindness. I was at an event in September in Arizona where classes were interrupted for what they had named "RAK Attacks." There is no model for it or science to it. It has much more to do with a heart to give. It is looking up from our daily routines long enough to see someone else's needs. It is wanting to bless someone for no reason at all. It is wanting to do something for somebody else that we may not even know. And… it is FUN!
I've shared stories before on my blog about it. I think because they always inspire me. Random acts of kindness always energize me and bring me joy. Really!
A couple of weeks ago, my sister from California emailed me mid-day. It was just the general stuff of life and then she told me about her lunch. That particular day she had just walked by herself to a nearby taco place near work. She wrote, "I had a $1.25 taco. I bought two more and gave it to a homeless guy that was standing near the entrance… not begging, just looking forlorn and hungry. He said, 'thank you miss' when I handed it to him." I loved it! I want to be like my big sister when I grow up! It is not the first time she has done such a thing. I remember a time when she saw a "bag lady" sitting on a bench outside of her local Target. At her feet, was her dog. My animal lover sister not only bought some things for that lady, but also dog food for her dog.
While we were at our Angel Company event in San Antonio, one of my friends generously gave to a man standing outside the McDonald's. We had walked by many people asking for food or money in the course of that weekend. What made her stop for this one man, I do not know. I heard him say that he had asked 100 people and that all he wanted was a hamburger from the dollar menu. When he saw that my friend was really going to get it for him, he humbly asked if he could also have a vanilla shake. She got him those things, along with a few other treats and a gift card for a couple of future meals.
I have another friend who pays the toll for the person behind her at a toll booth. My daughter pays for the person behind her at McDonald's. Recently, we were at the restaurant where our older daughter works. We were almost done with our meal when my husband asked me how we would pay for someone else's meal if we wanted to. I told him it would be easy, especially with Hannah there and a manager nearby. He explained that he saw a lady that he used to work with sitting not far from us. Her husband is battling cancer and can no longer work. She was there with her grown daughter. He wanted to pay for their meal. Our younger daughter, Jenna was with us. She was all over it! She announced that she had $7 and she was in! We all pulled out our wallets, pooled our money and paid for their meal. It was fun. We felt good. The amazing part of this experience was that as we were leaving, the manager came to us, nearly in tears. She told us that she had "never witnessed a random act of kindness" and was so touched by what we did. She asked if she could shake our hands. She rambled a little about what we must be teaching our children, asked if we knew the recipient, etc. Honestly, I think we touched her life more than the gals that had their meal paid for. The next day, however, my husband received a thank you note from the daughter in his box at work. She thanked him, more for the thoughtfulness than the meal… for noticing them, for being mindful of what they were walking through and yes, for paying for their meal.
Random acts of kindness don't need to cost you money. They may cost you time or a little extra effort. It is whatever we can do to give preference to someone else above ourselves, above our schedules or above our own needs or wants in that moment. They are hugs given when needed or a listening ear at an unexpected time. It is saying 'your life is as important as mine, whether I know you or not.' Ultimately it communicates to others, 'you are not alone.'
This week I encourage you to look for an opportunity for a rak attack. No matter what you give, I think you'll find that you receive even more. What a refreshing twist to an ordinary day!