21st Birthday… wasted?

Something inside of me felt the need to be different. To make a difference. Something inside of me had to do something that some people might look at and say, “That’s weird.”

A few weeks ago I was reading my Bible when I came across this verse: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9. This verse really hit home for me. It is easy for us as Christians to get tired of life. There are so many battles that each of us face every day that can cause us to be completely exhausted. Most of us would say that we try to be nice to people and live “moral” lives. But have we ever done something above and beyond? Have we ever taken an extra step in order to make someone happy instead of staying in our comfort zone?

I read a blog a few weeks ago of a lady that turned 30 years old. Instead of making the whole day about herself, she did 30 acts of kindness throughout the day. Wow! When I read that I was so inspired that I decided to do the same. Most people on their 21st birthdays spend it either celebrating all day with friends or going out and getting wasted. The only kind of wasted I got on my 21st birthday was chocolate wasted. (sorry I had to throw that in there). 🙂 Anyways, I wanted to make my 21st birthday a day that I wouldn’t forget. Instead of focusing on myself all day, I wrote out a plan of 21 things I was going to do for other people. This wasn’t so that I could be like, “Hey guys, look at all the nice things I have done!”, but instead I wanted to genuinely bless people and show them kindness in a world full of evil. So here was what my day looked like:

1. Pay for the person behind me in a drive-thru.

I felt so sneaky doing this! It was so cool to know that the lady behind me was about to be surprised with a free coffee!!

2. Help a woman put groceries in her car.

This was actually way harder than I thought it was going to be. I asked probably 5 women walking out of the grocery store if they needed help and they all said no. One lady looked at me like I was crazy. Another lady literally had two whole shopping carts full of groceries and two kids hanging off of her and still denied help even though I almost argued with her that she did need help!! ha! Finally a lady with a full cart let me help her and her response was, “I guess there really is hope for our youth!” It was so hot outside and she was really thankful that I helped her in the extreme heat.

3. Put encouraging notes on about 20 cars in the Kroger parking lot.

This was super cool because before I left the parking lot I got to watch a few people read the notes I left on their cars and watched them smile 🙂

4. Tape change to a vending machine.

I taped money in a plastic bag to two different vending machines at the mall. I hope someone enjoyed those freebies!!

5.  Write a note or letter to someone who has made a difference in your life.

This is something I wish I did more often. I wrote a letter to a lady who has challenged me spiritually and who I immediately think of when thinking about a turning point in my life. I seriously would not be where I am at today without this person challenging me and pouring into my life a couple of years ago.

6. Take cookies to the fire department and thank them for all of their hard work.

This was so cool! There were only two workers there because the others had just gone out on a mission in the firetruck. The dude worker was so happy about the cookies but the woman seemed like she was in a bad mood. Hopefully it made their days!

7. Take sister coffee and congratulate her for making it into nursing school.

So, if you don’t know this about me already, I really love coffee. My sister recently got accepted to UT Chattanooga’s nursing program (which is a really big deal). I haven’t really congratulated her except for over the phone so I decided to bring her a frappuccino!!

8. Leave a note for the mailman thanking him for his hard work!

9. Buy popsicles for random people.

I felt so sketchy doing this one. I walked in Las Paletas and told the woman at the cash register that I wanted to buy 3 popsicles for random people…. and then like 20 people walked in!! I didn’t get to see who ended up getting the free popsicles but the lady working told me she would take care of it! So cool.

10. Give a starbucks giftcard to a random person

So when I was at Kroger, I went to the coffee section (obviously) and waited…and waited. Finally, I found a family looking at coffee. I asked them if they liked Starbucks and they said they loved it. I told them what I was doing and that I wanted them to have a Starbucks giftcard. They were super surprised and told me that they were going to pass along the gift of kindness. (See, coffee can cheer anyone up right?)

11.Do something nice for a person who has hurt me.

This was probably the hardest thing for me to do. Pride is something that we all have inside of us. I recently have had a person in my life that I am no longer in contact with because of various reasons, and I have been prideful about not wanting to be the first to contact them. For me, I chose to secretly send this person a cup of coffee who I know needed it that morning. Hopefully it brightened up their day:)

12. Give out water to people who look like they need it.

For this one, I carried around a case of water in my car in case I saw people that needed water. I ended up giving water to two guys playing tennis and also to a mom and son walking down the street. The little boy with his mom I believe had some sort of disability so I am sure it helped a lot to have some water in the heat of the day.

13. Buy a contributor magazine.

I don’t know about you, but because I live near downtown Nashville, I see so many people selling Contributor magazines that there is no way I could buy one from every single person. I really wanted to buy one today and not only buy one, but spend a few moments talking to the person. I ended up talking to the lady that sold one to me for a minute or two and she seemed so genuinely thankful.

14. Hand out balloons to little kids.

This was so cute!!! I randomly bought a blue and pink balloon from the store and found a random little boy and girl to give them to. It is so precious to watch a kid’s face light up at a thing as small as a balloon!

15. Deliver cookies to the pet emergency clinic workers

Ok this was definitely my favorite “delivery” of the day. This lady was so happy that we brought her and her co-workers cookies! I also got to play with a puppy who was there for a visit:)

16. Tape a note on the mirror in a women’s bathroom that says “you are beautiful”. 

I wish I could have stayed around for different reactions of this one. Women struggle with self-confidence so I hope this cheered up someone’s day. I put this note on the bathroom mirror at the mall.

17. Put happy notes on apartment doors.

I put notes on 12 different apartment doors telling the people to have a great day and to pass along the kindness 🙂

18. Visit with grandparents and family.

Over the course of two days on my birthday weekend, I got to spend time with both sets of grandparents. This is something I rarely get to do except for on holidays. It made me realize that I need to make more time to spend with family.

19. Write a thank you letter to someone who has believed in your dreams.

For me, it was the creative director at my church. I have gotten plugged into the music ministry at my church over the last few years and I have gained friends that will last a lifetime. My church seriously has so much talent and I felt the need to thank the creative director for overseeing everything done and for all his hard work.

20. Tell someone they are beautiful.

This is a lot harder than it seems. It can be really awkward to tell a person “Oh, hey, I think you are beautiful”. Try it sometime and you’ll know what I mean. I ended up telling the hostess at Chuy’s that I loved her hair (it was bright red) and that I thought she was beautiful. She seemed like she never really had been told that before. Hopefully it cheered her up.

21. All day I smiled at people, gave compliments, and told friends that I loved them.

I will never forget my 21st birthday. I felt blessed all day and was completely humbled by my whole journey. I thought about how we waste so much of our lives thinking about “me, me, me” when it should really be about serving others to show them the love of Christ. Wasted is a term that is often used when describing people’s 21st birthdays. Not only did I not want to spend the day wasted because of drinking, I didn’t want to spend the day wasted on selfish things. The inspiration I got from the lady’s blog made me realize that this life is not about me. I am not a perfect human. None of us are, and we are brought into this world being selfish and needy. Good deeds don’t make us a Christian, but what would happen if all Christians around the world started living less selfishly and showed more kindness to the people around us? Lives would truly be changed and, more importantly, God’s love would be shown through our decisions.

I was really compelled to start blogging and to hopefully inspire others. Listen to people. Help those around you. Do something selfless today. Tell someone you love them. Live from the inside out.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

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2 comments

  1. Laura · July 17, 2012

    Love it Carmen!

  2. Jodi Stone (Lindsey's Mom) · July 18, 2012

    Carmen, You are such a beautiful person, and such an inspiration! I am so grateful my daughter has such a role model and great teacher in you!!! I loved this blog!

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