Yesterday afternoon I felt a little flat, so I took Poppy (our dog) out for a walk. It is lockdown number 5 in Melbourne, and as of Wednesday we clocked over 6 months in hard lockdown in under a year. That does not include the country wide lockdown that our nation lived through last March/April.
Lockdown causes our family to save on certain items like petrol. With this in mind, I had the picture of leaving some money on a coffee tab at a particular coffee shop. Support small business; support local.
The owner of my target business knows me. He knew what I was up. I explained to the girl at the register that I did not want a coffee, but I was performing an ARK (an Act of Random Kindness) and leaving some money on the tab. I told her she would have some fun giving away coffees away in the afternoon.
‘It’s fun and it changes atmospheres,’ I said, and walked on.
Not far up the street, I knew to stop again.
‘Really?’ the owner asked.
‘Yep,’ I replied.
‘Never seen this before, it’s really generous,’ insisting I take one of his deep fried Turkish creations.
‘It’s fun. It shifts atmospheres. You have fun giving them away. I support you, and the people have fun receiving their coffee for free. Kindness matters, it’s how we will all get through together.’
‘Never seen it before,’ he repeats and I explain it happens around here. I’m not the only one that does it.
He looked incredulously at me again.
‘You shine, there’s a glow about you.’
‘It’s not me,’ I explain. ‘I’m a Christian and God shines through me.’
He and his partner stood looking at me.
I waved, wished him well and went on.
We’re the window and Jesus is the view
Fini & Isi de Gersigny
The business owner had seen through me to Him.
Coffee with Christ…
I popped into another favourite to buy takeaway lasagne for dinner. We rarely buy takeaway, but again, choosing to support my local, I broke our habit of cooking at home to buy dinner.
Thinking ‘all done,’ Poppy and I continued our walk, but as I approached our local ice cream shop, I felt the ‘nudge’ again.
I popped my head inside the entrance, asked what the most popular purchase was. On being advised ice cream (rather than crepes) I bought 5 ice creams to go onto the tab for ‘whomever.’
The purchase surprised the young man behind the counter.
‘It’s an ARK, an Act of Random Kindness. You’ll have fun giving them away, and they will have fun receiving them. Kindness matters.’
He laughed and agreed it was going to be fun.
I do most acts of kindness in private. An Aussie girl speaking about these things is just not culturally ‘ok.’ Add a layer of Christian ease over the top and it is ‘just not the done thing – you MUST ALWAYS give in private.’
Yep! I agree…
Unless you’re in a pandemic and you want to motivate people to perform ARK’s, because you know it deeply impacts the surrounding community.
Telling our stories of God’s goodness inspires others to see life differently. Yes, anyone can do what I did yesterday (Christian or not), but it is interesting to hear how people become inspired to try it themselves. It also gives back some control over how we respond to circumstances in our lives, in situations we have little control over.
I choose to give, be kind, encourage, and find strength in Hope. I’m not naïve, and yes, we are walking through various challenges in our own lives. Regardless, I get to choose how I respond.
Atmospheres need to be shifted and a bit of fun goes a long way.
I can hear those that are doing it tough saying, ‘you don’t know my situation – you’re lucky.’
I say in response
‘I see you – me too. Same storm, different impact.’
Please note, I did not say how much I gave.
If money is really tight, the next time you buy a coffee for yourself, buy another for a stranger and leave it on the tab.
I unintentionally met someone who had received a tab I left two days ago. The cafe outed me (which is not the deal). She gushed:
‘No one has ever done this for me, thank you… I’m going to pay it forward.’
‘You can if you like,’ I said, ‘but it’s ok for you to just receive you know. You’re worth a free hot chocolate. God encouraged me to do it, you can just receive His love.’
She said, ‘no, this made me feel so good I want to do it for others too.’
So I’m telling this story of yesterday (and a little of the day before). Every time I write about the goodness of God flowing through me, I push back at the unspoken rules that scream ‘you can’t talk about that, you’re blowing your own trumpet.’
But if I can encourage even one person to step out and buy a coffee for a stranger, to leave a tab for one cuppa for someone they don’t know, then it’s worth the discomfort in telling this story.
Kindness will get us through this pandemic; kindness will rebuild as well.
Be an ARK in someone’s life and set up a target for God’s goodness to flow. And together we will know that…
God is Good!
Let me know in comments of some of your ARK’s. I’d love to hear and celebrate, because it encourages me too…
© Beth Kennedy 2022