Pay It Forward


I did it to myself.

Pay It Forward was on TV today, and I watched it. I watched it, knowing full well that by the end of it, I would be crying into the couch pillows and casting around for something to rid me of the squeezing ache of overwrought emotion in my chest*. I’m such a sucker.

I remember seeing this movie in the theater. I wasn’t the only one in need of a Kleenex and a hug; there were people all around me wearing the same thoughtful and exhausted expression as we shuffled, en masse, out to the popcorn-scented lobby. The reason? I think the concept behind Pay It Forward touches us all in some elemental place, the place where many of us have buried our first delicate ideals, our hopes for making a difference, our conviction that people really could be kinder to each other, after all.

When he receives a school assignment to change the world, Trevor hits upon the idea for Pay It Forward. He’ll do three good deeds for three different people, who, upon receiving the favor, will pay it forward instead of back, doing acts of service for three new people, who will each reach out to help three other people, setting off a chain reaction of people helping people for no other reason than to pass on the kindness they have received themselves. In the movie, a reporter stumbles across the story when his own car is demolished in an accident and a man walking by gives him the keys to a new one. What could have prompted such an extravagant and unusual gesture from a complete stranger?

Determined to find the answer to that question, the reporter hounds the man for the story behind the deed. As he traces back along the line of benefactors in search of the origins of the Pay It Forward movement, we discover that lives have been saved, paths changed, and wounds healed by the simple concept of goodness passed from person to person.

This isn’t a new idea.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. II Corinthians 1:3-4

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. I John 4:11

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Perhaps that’s why this movie touches me so deeply. As a Christian, I should already be a big believer in Pay It Forward. After all, I’ve received hope, and a future, and a family. Underneath everything else that happens in my life (and believe me, there is ugliness, fear, and heartache to spare alongside the bounty of my blessings) is a joy that is absolutely untouchable. I know where home is, and nothing can stop me from getting there.

With such an abundance of wealth, how can I possibly keep it to myself?

I can’t.

So today, I’ll share my hope.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll share my chocolate.

*Chocolate functions tolerably well in this regard.


12 responses »

  1. I love the idea. Hated the movie, only because of the ending. I just don’t like unhappy endings.

    I’ve tried to “pay it forward” in many areas of my life. One thing I’ve found to be consistent is that most folks are too busy to continue the good will. Or they’re too busy to even notice it in the first place. And don’t get me started on the people who think that they’re owed something and don’t have to “pay it forward.”

    Sorry, the cynic in me came out. But I don’t let the bad deeds of others affect me. My wife once asked me why I kept remembering the birthday of an old college friend by finding some elaborate and appropriate gift for him each year, yet he never remembers my birthday. My reply was, “Because it’s fun for me, and maybe it makes his day.”

  2. Oh, I was going to post about how I haven’t seen the movie but then I read Phil’s comment 😦 Not sure I want to see it now! But, you nailed it, Katrina, we should be living that way already shouldn’t we? We were given the ultimate gift of all and we are to share that every day and every way we can.

  3. I haven’t seen the movie, but am allf or the concept. Now I really don’t want to see the movie, though. Unhappy ending? Sorry. I see enough of those every day 🙂 About that chocolate …

  4. I’ve not seen the movie, but like the idea. It’s kind of a do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do philosophy?

    I’m like Phil in that most of the people I know don’t even realize that something nice has been done for them, or that if they acknowledge it at all, they believe that they were entitled to the niceness.

    Still, I do it. Makes me happy now and future reward sounds good too.

  5. I’ll put the movie on my list. I heart Helen Hunt. I have been trying to pay it forward by breaking up the static in my life, by being more honest with my friends, in hopes to keep them…

    I came on the urgings of Amy…and was not disappointed. I love the text of your profile…

  6. It’s one of may favourite movies but I can’t watch the ending any more – it’s too unjust, too sad for such a feelgood movie. Like life I suppose.

  7. I’ve never seen the movie, but will have to rent it one evening when I have full control of the TV 🙂 I too am a believer in the Pay it Forward mentality, and believe that our reward will be found in Heaven, if never realized during our lifetimes. But, we’ve already been granted eternal life with our Savior, so what more of a reward could we possibly want or need? I think I’ll be happy just seeing my mom again, so that I can tell her what a privilege it is to be called her daughter 🙂 God is so good…He really does give us a future, and a hope!!!!!

    Yet another amazing, thought-provoking post Katrina 🙂

  8. I have seen you comment on my brother raymondpert’s blog at kelloggbloggin’, and have looked at your blog and really enjoy what you have shared. I recently started my own blog. Feel free to check it out at I look forward to reading more from you in the future. i especially like your explanation of the hope you have in Jesus.

  9. This movie struck me deeply, too. And while the ending is hard to choke down, I was so grateful for an honest ending and not a Hollywood script that I could have predicted a mile off. It was more real this way. Doing good does not mean you will be rewarded for it. It is simply the act of doing good that is our own reward.

    Thanks for this reminder today. I need to find more ways in my life to pay it forward!

  10. I love that movie because it shows just how possible it is for us to actually make a difference. Because no man is an island, what we do for one we are doing for all.

    Thanks for reminding me of this.

  11. It’s such a great movie! I own it but, along with Radio, I can’t bring myself to watch it again because I’ll bawl so much in it.

    The whole concept of the movie is great, and even through the sadness emerges some really great things, but it’s just … so … hard! I saw it was on TV the other day and just flipped right on through. So sad!

  12. When I watched Pay It Forward, I had no foreknowledge of the story. So as I watched it, I was delighted by the idea, and I kept saying to my husband, “I love this movie. What a great movie!” I was so mad about the ending! If there is ever a question from anyone interested in watching the movie, I do not give the ending away, but I feel like I could not recommend it without a warning. The ending did surprise me, which I often enjoy in a movie, but not this one. I have heard that the book is very good.

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