Serving Others Makes ‘A Wonderful Life’

I’m way out of season here, but do you remember that movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life?” My husband and I watch it every Christmas snuggled up on the couch. I start getting misty-eyed right about the time Clarence, the guardian angel, jumps into the river, forcing George Bailey to save him. When the town comes through for George at the end, I’m an absolute mess. Oh, I love kindness!

That particular movie always reminds me of the words from Hebrews 13:2: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

Jordan Ohlson is one of those people who apparently entertains angels. He is a Guest Services Manager at Sanford Health, and recently, he picked up an 81-year-old man who needed a lift. But that was only the beginning of the story.

Jordan shared his experience in a memo to his employees, one of whom was so touched by her boss’s act of kindness that she wanted me to share it with the whole community.

“Guest Services Team:

“I want to share with you a story to emphasize a couple of points that I’ve reiterated and will continue to reiterate. Keep in mind that I’m not sharing this story to brag or make you think that I’m an extraordinary person!

“I went to Sioux Falls yesterday. On my way back to Fargo, I noticed an older man walking along the interstate, carrying what looked like a heavy backpack. I pulled over and offered him a ride, which he gladly accepted.

“His name was Clarence, and he had been walking for hours. He explained that he had a spell of bad luck and was trying to get to Fargo, but that he eventually needed to get to Reno, Nevada.

“Long story short, I decided he was a really nice, harmless guy, so I brought him to Fargo and took him to my house. My wife was obviously surprised, but she and the rest of us worked to feed him and do his laundry.

“My kids showed him all their tricks (my kids loved him and he thought they were great), and we let him sleep in our basement overnight. I cooked him breakfast the next day and took him to the bus station where I bought him a ticket and gave him a little cash. Off he went!

“The reason I’m sharing this is because serving Clarence brought a tremendous amount of happiness and satisfaction into my life. It would have been easy not to pick him up. It would have been easy to take him to Fargo, only to drop him off alongside the interstate where he could have continued his journey. I think that’s what he expected to happen.

“But I’ll tell you what. The joy that my family and Clarence felt would not have been as great if I would have decided to leave him alongside the road upon arriving in Fargo. It would not have been as great if we had decided to only feed him and not provide him shelter. It certainly wouldn’t have been as great if we hadn’t ensured he had a way to safely travel to his final destination. In doing all this, our intent was to help him, but we may have gotten more out of the experience than he did.

“I know I’m not alone in my philosophy on how we should treat one another. I want to thank all of you for taking the same approach to serving others. Doing so will truly fill our hospitals and clinics with the spirit of service, which will make the Sanford experience one people appreciate. Remember, the joy we and others feel will be proportionate to the time and resources we dedicate to helping others.”

Thank you, Jordan, for reminding us that when we live with the goal of serving others through kindness, it truly is a wonderful life.

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