What I Learned From Rolling My Eyes At An Elderly Man When I Thought No One Was Watching

"Every moment is an opportunity to not just love someone to their face, but to love them behind their back."

An elderly man put his creamer in his coffee. Not knowing that I was standing behind him waiting for my turn, he took his time, carefully shaking just enough sweetener into his cup, stirring slowly and intentionally. 

As his back was still turned from me, I grew irritated and impatient. and then I ROLLED MY EYES AT HIM. I literally rolled my eyes at him in disgust. At a little old man! That's as horrible as it gets. Then, he turned around, and I flashed him a smile, as if I wasn't irritated at all. He gave me a nod and shuffled off.

Then, I saw the cashier looking our way. She had seen the whole thing. She had witnessed my selfish eye roll, my impatient foot tapping, and then my half-hearted, somewhat fake smile. 

My stomach dropped and my heart sank. This is hard to say sometimes — I really stink at being nice. Sometimes I'm really selfish and impatient. 

I felt disgusting, fake, and mean. I wanted to rewind and relive it, to truly be kind instead of only being kind only when I thought someone was watching. 

Courtesy of Jordan Lee
Courtesy of Jordan Lee

Here's why it matters: that ordinary morning at the coffee shop, I realized: 

You never know who's watching you. you never know who's watching how you react, how you wait, how you love. Every moment is an opportunity to not just love someone to their face, but to love them behind their back. To love them, serve them, and understand them before they turn around and see you. To put them first when they aren't looking, don't notice, and don't return the smile. 

We tend to have to problem loving when it's seen, received, and appreciated. But loving when it's unseen, unnoticed, and even unappreciated? That's the challenge.

So, before you repeat that rumor about the girl you don't like, roll your eyes at the one holding you up, or fake a smile, remember: give grace when it's undeserved and unseen. And don't just be kind or love them to their face, love them behind their back. 

That's when it's real. That's world changing stuff. 

This story originally appeared on Jordan Lee's Facebook page. Lee is a writer and speaker. You can follow her at her blog SoulScripts and on Facebook.

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