Yesterday morning as I was driving down Springhill Avenue I passed an area in the grassy median that was littered with newspaper. Someone had clearly tossed an entire newspaper from their vehicle. The blowing wind of the passing cars kept the paper mostly in the median but it was scattered along the road for 50 yards or so.
This was a beautiful stretch of Springhill with large historic homes and massive live oaks shading the road. I thought to myself that if I were not in such a hurry I would stop and pick it up. But I kept going.
A few hours later as I was driving back in the other direction I could see the paper still there as I approached the area. I could also see that there was a man walking along the sidewalk in front of one of the homes picking up the paper. I turned around and went back.
Parking my car in the next drive over I jumped out, walked across the road to the median where the bulk of the paper was located and began to pick it up. The fellow cleared the yard in front of the home and the one next to it then walked across the road to help me in the median, trash bag in hand.
Within about five minutes we had completed the task of cleaning the fifty-yard stretch of median and adjoining yards. We exchanged a few words and went about our day. A few points from our conversation…….
- Turns out the fella I thought was the homeowner was in fact not the homeowner, he was the owner of the lawn service for the home owner. I didn’t know that as I drove up, I just saw a man making a difference, doing what needed to be done, so I stopped to help. His actions gave me “permission” to stop and help.
- As I previously stated, I had “almost” stopped earlier. Would I have stopped if he had not been there? No, but I did so without hesitation when I saw him picking up the trash. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was looking for permission.
- When the fella approached me in the median he said, “I was just going to pick up the paper in the yard but let me give you a hand with the rest of it, do you know the home owner”? I said “No, honestly I thought that you were the home owner. I drove by earlier this morning and thought about stopping but was in too much of a hurry. When I saw you on my way back by just now I decided to stop and help”. He gave me permission to stop and in turn I gave him permission to cross the road.
People everywhere are looking for permission. Permission to persevere, to be strong, kind, generous, optimistic, happy, to forgive, to get back in shape, to become a better version of themselves, give Christ a chance in their lives, etc. The list is long. On other side of the coin people are also looking for permission to be weak, crude, greedy, to gossip, wallow in despair or self-pity, hold a grudge, be a failure, blame someone else, etc. That list is long too. So, what type of permission are you giving the people around you? It matters.
Sometimes the only thing holding someone back, for better or for worse, is permission. Be mindful of what you are giving people permission to do or become. Someone is always looking up to you and if you don’t do your part they may never be empowered to do theirs.
Get in the boat. Do your part.
1:6 / Nose to Toes / #16