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The Stories I Don’t Tell

September 30, 2021

“Why did you make the donations anonymously? “

“Because I wanted to remain ANONYMOUS!”

– Absence of Malice

I’m a writer. Okay, you probably guessed that by all the words I write here every Monday through Friday. But, I also write short stories (coming next spring in an anthology.) I write for the local newspaper. (Okay, it’s a monthly, but it still has to fill its pages.) I write journals. I have three currently; a collection of spiritual events (weddings, sons going on missions, etc), one that is a list of 40 life history questions, and one that is for other thoughts and musings. I also write prayers for my Mason’s lodge. And my kids gave me a “Journaling” service for Christmas last year. I get an interesting question every Monday. Such as “What’s your favorite vacation memory?” Or, “Tell me about one of the best days you can remember.” At the end of the year, they are going to put it all into a book and send it to me.

Sometimes the question is something I can answer immediately. Sometimes it takes me a few days to think through it.

But, last week I got one that I just can’t answer. It asked, “Have you ever given or been the recipient of a random act of kindness?”

Okay, the simple answer is “Yes, I have. Next!” But, the idea is to give a longer, more interesting answer. And that’s clearly an interesting question. We love to hear about random acts of kindness. They help restore our faith in the world.

Remember Mike Ilitch? He founded Little Caesars Pizza. But, he’s possibly better remembered for the fact that he paid Rosa Parks rent for the last ten years of her life.

But, here’s the thing, he didn’t do it for the fame. In fact, it wasn’t until after she died that we even heard about it. Ilitch clearly wanted to keep it anonymous.

And that’s what makes it so hard for me to answer this question. With as much writing as I do, as many stories as I tell, I don’t tell those stories. Not even to my wife or my friends. Maybe it’s a false sense of nobility. Maybe, (I think this is what Nietzsche would say) I do it to feel good about myself. To somehow feel noble?

I like to think it’s more Christian than that. Jesus said,

1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2. Therefore when thou doesn’t thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say until you, They have their reward.

3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what they right hand doth:

4. That thine alms may be in secret: and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Matthew Chapter 6

But, if that’s why I don’t talk about it, am I really doing any better? Am I doing it so that I can get heavenly blessings? That doesn’t seem very charitable, does it?

I had an opportunity just tonight to help someone out. The person said, “God bless you.” My thought was “God bless us all.” The person I was helping needed God’s blessing more than I do right now.

Yes, I’ve been the recipient of random acts of kindness. More than I could ever say or deserved. And I’ve tried to pay that back and pay it forward. But, despite being a loudmouth writer with WAY too much to say, I think those are stories I’m going to keep for myself.

I hope you go about quietly doing good. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to help others, even if it’s just a smile or a kind word. And I’ll understand if you want to retell that story. Like everyone, I love hearing those stories.

I just don’t tell them.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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