Answering the Call of Heart Stirrings and Nudgings

July 1, 2019 | by stephanie toews

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with someone on your mind or have a person spring to mind seemingly out of nowhere? Walk past a stranger down on their luck and feel compelled to do something for them? Does your heart burn for the homeless, orphans, youth, or the elderly? I would like to suggest these things do not happen by chance. We are intricately wired for community, fellowship, and togetherness. We can’t get through life without it.

I call these impulses nudgings or heart stirrings; you may call them convictions or passions. It is not the title we give to the things that drive us, wake us from slumber, or stir emotion within us that matters, it is the choices we make amidst the stirrings of our hearts. Do we choose to act upon them or push them aside out of busyness or preoccupation?

Personally, I have responded both in action and inaction. Sometimes I make excuses, “They wouldn’t be standing on that corner if they weren’t profiting greatly from it.” “I don’t have time to volunteer.” “What if they look at me funny when I, a complete stranger, approach them?” Other times, I take action without a second thought.

One day, while sitting in McDonald's watching my children eat Happy Meals, two 20-something guys sat beside us and began counting out their change. I couldn't stop looking over at them out of the corner of my eye. It was clear they were not having their best day ever. All of a sudden, I couldn't stand it any longer. I stood up, walked to their table, and told them I would like to buy their lunch. Anything they wanted. At first, they told me it was ok, and they didn't want me to. I proceeded to tell them that it would genuinely bless me more than anything to treat them that day. After some prodding, they agreed and told me what they wanted. When I delivered the food to their table, they thanked me with tears in their eyes and promised to pay it forward.

Why am I telling this story? It’s most certainly not to give myself a pat on the back or because I think I did some remarkable thing, it’s quite the opposite really. I’m merely suggesting that in treating two strangers to lunch that afternoon, my heart was blessed far more than theirs could have been by those cheeseburgers.

Isn’t that the way it is when we put others first? It may be as simple as a whispered prayer in the darkness of the night for the one who springs to mind unexpectedly, a smile or word of encouragement, a gift to a young couple. It may be the gift of time volunteering with teenagers, visiting older folks in retirement homes, or hanging out with foster kids. We truly receive so much more than we give away. The cost is minimal, the return immeasurable.

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” 

-Nelson Mandela

I believe each one of us has the capacity to make our world a little brighter with very little investment versus incredible return. The scenarios will look different from day to day and circumstance to circumstance, but we all have something to give.

I would like to encourage you to take action when you feel compelled. It's not an accident; it's not a coincidence. It is far quieter than the noise of our day, and it is something we can easily find ample reasons to dismiss. It's a still, small voice in the middle of this madness we call life, and it has the power to change lives.

Mother Teresa put it more beautifully than I ever could, "At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "'I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked, and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in."

Originally printed in the July 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

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