A few months ago, as we traveled down to Southern California to see family for Christmas, we stopped at El Pollo Loco for lunch. Steve placed our order while I got David settled in the booth and pulled out his pre-prepared foods and a spoon. Because of his disability, David eats a special diet and all his meals are blended to a smooth texture. As I began spoon feeding him a woman come over to us. She looked at David’s small hand with only two fingers and compassion filled her eyes. I could feel her love towards him.
As she approached us I wondered what she would say. Would she ask for a hug from him? Every thing about her seemed like she wanted to wrap her arms around him and snuggle him.
“Hello,” she said with a tremble in her voice. “He is so precious. Can I give him a gift?” She pulled out a crisp $100 dollar bill and handed it to me.
“Thank you, you are so kind, but that is not necessary.” I said with a smile.
“Please,” she said, her eyes pleading with me to take the money.
“He is fine, don’t worry. Someone else must need this money more than he does.” I tried to explain.
“I want to give it to him. Please, please take it.” She pleaded.
“Okay. Thank you. Wow. God Bless you.” I stumbled over my words as I stood up and hugged her. We embraced and as we said goodbye she wiped a tear from her eye.
This isn’t the first time someone has given David a generous gift. I’m unsure what to do in these situations–we don’t really need the money–David has everything he needs and more. But, how can we reject a gift given with so much love? So much bravery?
We finished our food, gathered our things and headed back to the car. As we continued our journey Steve and I talked about what we should do with the money. Let’s keep our eyes open for the right person. We’ll find someone who needs this $100 and pass it on to them.
God please bless her, I prayed as we drove. I pray her gift comes back to her tenfold.
Later that day we picked up our family from the airport. We shared the crazy story with them and talked about the kindness of strangers. We also talked about David’s beautiful heart and how he draws people to him. It’s something I can’t explain but I’ve seen it happen again and again.
A couple days later we woke up in a hotel room, threw on sweats and headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. We had been exploring Los Angeles with our extended family as we were all wiped out. It was Christmas Eve and the hotel was mostly quiet. We were seated at a big table and our server came over quickly to fill our mugs with hot coffee. He smiled at the kids and made small talk–asking us what had brought us to town on Christmas Eve. We went around the table and each of us placed our order for an omelet or waffles. When he got to David I told the server David was fine–I had brought special food for him. Our server smiled at David and then headed to the computer to put our breakfast order in.
This server was extra attentive with a kind smile and a gentle heart. He kept checking on us, but specifically asking after David, making sure he had everything he needed. When I finished feeding David his pre-prepared blended food, the server asked if he could take the containers to the kitchen and wash them for us. We have never had a server ask to do that! It was so thoughtful. Steve and I were both touched by his kindness. We looked at each other and smiled. This was the person who needed the $100. This gentle soul, who noticed David and went out of his way to show kindness, should be the one who received this generous gift. When the bill arrived, Steve paid with a credit card and left the crisp $100 bill as a tip.
As we got ready to leave, the server made his way to Steve.
“I think you made a mistake.” He said, showing Steve the credit card receipt next to the crisp bill.
“No, no mistake. That is a gift for you.” Steve replied.
The look on the server’s face was a mix of genuine surprise, sheer joy and overwhelming gratitude. When I saw his face I thought I might burst into tears right then and there. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it. I am confident, this was the person who needed the $100 bill. I have no doubt God put this person in our path.
I wish we’d had time to tell the server the whole backstory–that it really wasn’t a gift from us, but a gift from a stranger we had met a few days earlier. I wished we could have found a way to explain that David, our son who only has two fingers on his left hand, our kiddo who is non-verbal, has a spark that brings out kindness in people. This kindness, this love, is bigger than David–big enough to connect strangers in different cities. Every good deed comes back bigger and better. Love stretches and grows and binds us together.
Love Given is Love Gained
Generosity brings freedom
Bravery makes us stronger
Smiles are contagious
Kindness rubs off on others
Gentleness calms the soul
Creativity inspires creativity
Laughter is infectious
Honesty breaks down walls
Forgiveness fortifies the heart
Love given is love gained
Good never goes to waste
It comes back bigger and better
Love grows and stretches and
binds us together
This is the meaning behind the Let Love Grow Cuff.
Have you experienced the kindness of a stranger?