Relationships are often built upon what we learn from others who share their stories with us. We grow when their story becomes part of our story, so we then have something to pay it forward to others. Listen in to learn how.

I’ve been thinking more about last week’s episode #21 “The Most Important Relationship of All.” It was about a story told to me when I was 19 that set me on the path I’ve been following ever since. I can’t imagine how my life would have turned out if it were not for that story.

What my friend Carol told me on April 4, 1968 was part of her story, which came from the man she calls “Pops” and his wife – and their story. I’m the beneficiary of hearing this same relationship story people have been passing along to others for the last 2,000 years.

When the stories of others have so impacted a person’s life, like they did for me, what are we to do with that? Do we just sit on this blessing, or do we pay it forward? We pay it forward would be my answer. But the answer raises 3 questions. Why do we pay it forward? How do we pay it forward? and When do we pay it forward?

Listen in to the rest of the show for the answers to these three questions: Why? How? and When?

I have always found the term “pay it forward” a bit odd. It doesn’t roll off the tongue easily and just seems an awkward phrase to me.

So I did a little bit of research and found that “Pay it Forward” is defined as “When a recipient of an act of kindness does something kind for someone else, rather than just accepting or repaying the original good deed.”

Well moving on, the term was most likely coined in 1916 by author Lily Hardy Hammond in her novel In the Garden of Delight, where she wrote: “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” Science Fiction author Robert Heinlein is credited with popularizing the term in his 1951 book Between Planets.
The term “Pay it Forward” became more popular in 2000 with a movie by the same name staring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, based on a 1999 novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Hyde later established the Pay It Forward foundation, which in 2007 inspired National Pay It Forward Day on April 28th.
Now that would be the day to be on Oprah’s TV show for sure.

All this is probably more background information than you care to know. So let’s move on to Why do we pay it forward with our story? How do we do it? When do we do it?

Why do we pay it forward with our story?
We share the stories that have profoundly impacted our lives because we want other people to experience the benefits we’ve experienced from these stories, because we care about people. We want the best for them. We don’t lose anything by sharing with others what we’ve gained from others sharing their story with us. It’s not a zero-sum game. If we don’t care enough to want this for other people, then we don’t fully understand the story shared with us. If we don’t care, then we need to go back hear the story again so we fully understand its implications. We pay it forward because we care. We pay it forward because it’s just the right thing to do.

How do we pay it forward?
It starts with being true to the story ourself, whatever that impactful story may be. By living out the story with honesty and integrity. We don’t have to live it out perfectly, but we must live it with intentionality. We pay it forward by experiencing growth within us that’s nurtured by the stories others share with us. We pay it forward by telling AND by showing. I’ll share an example in a little bit.

When do we pay it forward?
Short answer: When the time is right. The time is never right when it’s all about feeding our ego. The time is never right when we’re looking to get something in return, when our goal is to be paid back. The time is right when God makes it clear to us. When we feel him nudging us. When we sense the person we’re paying it forward to might be receptive to our story becoming part of their story.
Here’s a brief story that hopefully will illustrate all this. It comes from my book THEM I’ve mentioned to you before. It’s just a few paragraphs I’ll read.

[THEM; bottom of page 83 to the bottom of page 84]

Before I close, here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence

When we’ve been blessed by people sharing their life-life-changing stories with us, we’ll find great fulfillment when we pay it forward by sharing our own life-changing stories with others.

Here’s a way you can respond to today’s show

What story has greatly impacted your life that you could pay it forward? Who comes to mind that you think would be receptive to your story? If no one comes to mind, ask God to help you be on the look out for someone.

Coming up next week

I’m still thinking about the relationship quote of the week from last week’s episode, #021 “The Most Important Relationship of All.” It reads,

We need to remind each other of our own stories.

We’ll be examining this idea next week in episode #23. I hope you tune in then.


In wrapping up today’s episode, may others pay forward onto you the impactful relationship stories in their life. And may you then do the same with others.

And Now Here’s our Relationship Quote of the Week

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.

– Soren Kierkegaard

Well that’s it for today’s show. See you next week. Bye for now.

Resources mentioned in today’s show

THEM – The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others

Episode #21 The Most Important Relationship of All