Feeling that "tug" and responding to it?

I'd been having a bad interaction and was feeling a little bruised about being on the internet, when this email from Andrea landed in my box:

"I just wanted to thank you for bringing "Waiting To Unfold" to our attention.

I have a friend in labor right now (seems to be a week long process, so I told her to quickly read the pregnancy posts!) with her third girl. Her first two girls have had some medical issues, and they don't know yet if this third child will, so the idea of waiting for a child to unfold is strong.

When I read your review of the book, I felt a little tug, and I'm starting to learn to listen to that, so I ordered it and was able to deliver it today, on the heels of a neighborhood girls' night out for her.

It's so easy to get busy in my own life, with work and school and baby turning one soon, and the laundry and things that are not getting done, that I forget the struggles of my good friends. Then I realize that even they have amazing support compared to so many, like your recent post.

So i'm going to do my best to listen more to that tug that tells me to reach out to someone. The same tug that suggested I donate my son's clothes to my former student, unwed and twenty, having a boy the same month mine was born. Easy to think, but I need to take the next step and act on it.  I know people of different faiths have different theories on that tug, whether it's God or some other force. I don't know if I need it to have a name, as long as I learn to listen to it.

So all that to say thank you for providing a way for me to listen and reach out and do something small for someone special."

This hit me, hard. First of all, what inspired Andrea to send me that email exactly when I needed to hear it? She must have been listening to the tug in order to send it.

Also, I've started trying to pay attention to the tug when I hear it in my own life. I feel like sometimes I'm afraid to put my neck out or to overstep my bounds, but inevitably when I do follow the tug it opens up something or I find out the person really needed it.

I thanked Andrea, and she responded:

"I was thinking about times that I haven't responded to the tug... They really stick with me. Like something so small, but I was behind a young mom at the library and they told her she had fines that had been sent to a collection agency and I wished so badly I had my purse so I could cover her fees. I still try to remember the name I heard so I could go back and give the money, it was clearly a tug I should have listened to.

Definitely safety concerns and a general social awkwardness come in to play when the tug is related to a stranger. It's A lot easier when I get the feeling a friend could use dinner or flowers or a break from their kiddos. It's harder when I don't know the person and feel weird about even walking up to them to see if I can help.

Would love to hear people's thoughts on that, and on balancing the desire to teach our kids to listen to the tug, while maintaining the basic safety rules and stranger guidelines we want them to follow."

Yeah: Do you know what Andrea and I are talking about with "the tug"? I wouldn't describe it exactly as a feeling of obligation, but more of just an opportunity, an opening, and the thing that makes sense is to fill that opening. Whether it's a small conversation with someone, or handing someone a twenty dollar bill, or giving someone a ride, or anything that helps someone else in a concrete way.

And, how do we respond to it? In some ways, I feel like it's easier for me to respond when I'm feeling like I have fewer personal resources. When I'm feeling like I have more to spare, I don't seem to notice the tug, or there's more resistance to answering the tug.

Thoughts? And also, what about Andrea's concerns about safety and modeling for our kids?