Personal Online Journal

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gratitude and Paying it Forward

A few years ago I watched Pay It Forward.  It has had a profound effect on my life.  In it, a boy growing up in a less than ideal situation is challenged by a grade school teacher on the first day of school with an assignment on how they would make the world a better place.  (Spoiler alert: I don't think the following spoils the movie but perhaps you may)

He takes the assignment to heart.  He decides to do something for three people that they cannot do for themselves.  Something that is meaningful to them.  When the person wants to pay them back, you have to tell them that they cannot pay it back.  You have to pay it forward.  The person is then challenged to so the same.  Pick three people and do something meaningful for them that they cannot do for themselves.  And the chain continues.

The boy only has a mom at home.  He finds a homeless, heroine addict and invites him to his home and feeds him.  The man sleeps in the bed of the truck in the garage.   His mom finds the man and just about shoots him with her shotgun.  The man ends up fixing up the truck for his mom.  The movie actually starts with a few of these meaningful acts of kindness.  At the beginning of the movie, a reporter has one of these things done to him.  The movie is about how the reporter traces these acts of kindness back to the boy.

To me this movie was a power story of the principles of gratitude and paying it forward.  I first learned of these principles from the sermon of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon.  One of the things he teaches his people is that all are beggars before God.  That He has granted us our life and that He blesses us when we obey His commandments.  He always blesses us. We are forever in His debt because of this.  We cannot pay him back.  The only way we can try to pay him pack is to pay it forward.  Bless the lives of those around us in meaningful ways.

It is one of the geniuses of the plan of salvation. God provided that we could live on earth where there is the opportunity to choose between good and evil.  When each of us (except Jesus) chooses evil we place ourselves in eternal jeopardy.  We separate ourselves spiritually from God.  It is only through the grace and power of God that we have the opportunity to accept His salvation.  His plan is the ultimate pay it forward story.

5 comments:

Mike Fitzgerald said...

I have never seen this movie. I am going to get my act together and watch it. I noticed that it is on Netflix over the Internet, so no excuses now! Thanks for your post. I especially liked your insight into King Benjamin's sermon. Excellent.

Rich Alger said...

I would recommend you watch it with Clearplay or another edited version. There definitely what I would consider inappropriate content unedited.

Stephanie said...

I completely agree. I love your thoughts and insights. You are sweety!

my mudda' calls me jack said...

Beautiful thoughts. I love that scripture. Puts so much into perspective about humility and gratitude. Fills my heart with love. Thanks Rich!

Dandi said...

Thanks!