Unexpected Blessings

By Diane Stark

“Do you think we should pay for those ladies’ meals?” My husband, Eric, whispered.

We’d headed to Subway to grab some sandwiches after church, and it was obvious that the three elderly ladies behind us in line had attended services that morning as well. They were dressed to the nines, but their outfits were complemented with canes and walkers.

I nodded to Eric. “Yeah, let’s do it.”

He whispered to the cashier, who smiled and nodded. She pushed some additional buttons on the cash register and then whispered the total to Eric.

We sat down with our food, inconspicuously watching to see what would happen when the ladies tried to pay for their meals.

Eric, our kids, and I exchanged smiles when we heard the ladies say, “Really? Well, what a blessing that is!”

Our seven-year-old son, Nathan, giggled. “This is so much fun! We should do this every day!”

I started to explain that that would be impossible because of the expense, but I stopped myself. Instead, I said, “You’re right, Nathan.  We should do something kind for other people every day. Can you think of some things you can do?”

He shrugged. “I don’t have any money.” “Being kind doesn’t have to cost money. You just have to look for ways to help other people.”

Nathan thought for a minute. “I help Mommy in the kitchen. I also help my friend at school when he can’t read a certain word.”

“That’s good, Honey,” I said. “I remember at the grocery store a few weeks ago, you helped the lady in front of us unload her cart onto the conveyor belt.”

Nathan nodded. “And then do you remember what happened? She told me to choose a candy bar from the shelf and then she bought it for me for helping her. I would have helped her for free, but I was excited that she did something nice for me too.”

Eric grinned. “Being kind often has a way of coming back to us.” One by one, each of the ladies walked by our table. “The girl behind the counter said you bought my lunch,” one said. “That was such a nice surprise,” another said.

Nathan nodded maturely. “Our family tries to do kind things every day.”

The lady stifled a chuckle and said, “Well, what a wonderful young man you are.” She turned to Eric and me. “Did you all just come from church?”

Eric nodded and told her where we attend. We chatted for a few more minutes and then the ladies sat at their own table to eat.

I’d only taken two bites of my sandwich when another lady came to our table. “I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop,” she started, “but I wanted to find out some details about your church. I used to go, but I haven’t been since my husband passed away five years ago. But I think I’d like to start going again.”

Eric and I told her about our church, and we wrote down the service times. “I also wrote our names and phone number too, so you can get in touch with us if you have any more questions,” Eric said.

“I’ll come next Sunday,” she said.

“That would be wonderful. We’ll look for you,” I said.

The lady left, and we finished our lunch. I didn’t think anything more about it until the following Sunday. We were walking into church and my daughter, Julia, said, “I wonder if the lady from Subway will be here.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I hope so.”

And then I heard her voice. “These really nice people invited me here,” she was telling one of our deacons.

I went over to her and said, “Judy, I’m so glad you came!”

She hugged me. “I told you I would.”

Judy sat with us at church that week and went to lunch with us afterward. She told us about her late husband, her two sons and her six grandchildren. She was a wonderful lady and talking with her was fun for all of us.

“I’m so glad I overheard your conversation at Subway last week,” Judy said. “None of this would have happened if you weren’t talking to those three ladies.”

And that conversation probably wouldn’t have happened without Eric’s small gesture of kindness. I teared up a little, realizing that something seemingly insignificant had led to this new friendship.

When we left the restaurant, Judy hugged each of us. I could tell Nathan was hesitant to hug her, but he did it anyway.

“Thank you for that, Nathan,” she told him. “I don’t get to see my grandchildren very often, so that was a big blessing for me.”

Nathan grinned at her. “My mom taught me to do something nice for someone every day, and it doesn’t have to cost any money. Which is good, because I don’t have any.”

Judy laughed and promised to come back to church the next Sunday.  She’s been true to her word and is now a regular attendee. She’s also become a friend to our family.

As it turns out, our “random” act of kindness wasn’t random at all. Our family blessed three elderly women with lunch. But the blessings we’ve gotten in return have far outweighed that small gesture.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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One Response to “Unexpected Blessings”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your heart warming story proves that you have raised your son with love and compassion. What a wonderful world it would be if we all did good deeds every single day.

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