“I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” | Acts 20:35
So the Apostle Paul spoke these words when he was about to sail away from Ephesus for the last time. He was leaving brethren who had become dear to him and whose faces he would never see again. While he left them with many parting words, the last bit of this verse is perhaps THE most well-known of all his exhortations in this chapter. People bandy it about but I often wonder if we really understand just what it means. If we did, I hazard a guess that we’d be giving sacrificially a whole lot more and apathetically receiving from the sidelines of life a whole lot less. Last week Monday, the Most High showed me the Joy and Blessing that comes with giving. Giving without expecting anything in return. Giving because you have the utmost good of the other person(s) in mind. Giving because it’s really never about you and it’s always about the King and other humans, whether lovely or unlovely.
Let’s back up two weeks for a bit of context (and because digressions seem to be what this blog is about….). Also, NONE of this is to stroke my ego, pat myself on the back, toot my own horn, or whatever other expression signifies narcissism to the highest degree. It’s simply to push everyone reading this to give, to give often, and to give without reserve or ulterior motives other than seeing people’s faces light up and bringing honour to the One who gave everything so His people might live. Annnnd yes, I just really really REALLYYYY like writing about The Office Shenanigans 🙂
So one week before last week.
It was the day after Rina brought in her yo-yos and reminded us how to be kids again. Free food was raining down in The Office like confetti on a parade or doves at a wedding (do ordinary people even do that anymore??!) or snow from the heavens or…well, yes, I think you get the picture. If you remember (if you’ve been keeping up with The Office Shenanigans), the day Rina brought in her yo-yos, Rick’s mom had sent him in with these delightful pumpkin-spice-cream-filled cookies specifically for Toby which Toby then shared with all and sundry. The day after that, the free food just kept rolling in.
Liza brought in brownies from Wegmans and these brownies had a story.to.tell. Or rather, Liza had a story to tell about said brownies. She set them out by the Keurig and then The Keurig Effect took over. I’ve written about The Keurig Effect in Ponytails & Timberlands so instead of elaborating, I’ll just link it here so you’re forced to go back and find out what The Keurig Effect is yourself 🙂
So Liza plopped the brownies down on the counter between the sink and the Keurig and Mikhail and Ava promptly expressed their appreciation. Mikhail was on Coffee #2 and Ava was saying good morning to the machine for the first time that Tuesday. Liza launched into a passionate explanation of the Wegmans’ brownies and I was highly amused as I listened in from my office next-door. Well, it’s not exactly next-door…my office is next-door to Toby’s and his office is next-door to the Keurig buuuuut I can hear Keurig-conversations so easily that I might as well BE right next-door. Granted, Liza’s voice has a way of…carrying but we all have our talents and that’s one of hers.
Liza had had a party at her house Monday night and someone had had the nerve to show up with Wegmans brownies as their gift-offering. Honestly, I didn’t see anything wrong with that but from Liza’s tone, I gathered that something was very much wrong with it. As it turns out, Wegmans brownies are sub-par and, in Liza’s words, “a bottle of wine would have been better”. Clearly, Liza and Wegmans brownies have a rather unpleasant history…sort of like Stanley and Mediterranean food (refer to The Yo-Yo Incident for further clarification 🙂 ).
The poor Wegmans brownies. They weren’t good enough for Liza’s fancy shindig but they were most definitely good enough for The Office where we descend on free food like the gift from above that it is and leave elegance to the plebeians. I’m not sure what Liza has against Wegmans brownies but Mikhail and Ava shared her displeasure or at least pretended to in an effort to humour her. One can never tell but it’s all still very amusing whatever their true intentions.
Liza, Ava, and Mikhail parted ways for a short while and then I took a little trip to the Keurig for a go at the sub-par Wegmans brownies and a coffee. Mikhail came back for his customary 1pm caffeination and I opened his eyes to the wonders of coffee-infused brownies. He literally looked at me as if his mind had been blown and I couldn’t stop smiling because I was remembering when his face lit up on our first Keurig encounter late last year. When I took a step of courage a bit outside my comfort zone and initiated a conversation with a stranger who turned into a lovely human. When I was reminded once again how much we humans need each other in this world and how simple acts of kindness like acknowledging one another’s existence can go a long, long way and if we’re fortunate, we can see people’s face light up. It was all just so grand but I can’t get carried away because there’s loads more Story left for this post 😛
Back to the moment at hand.
I asked who brought in the brownies (even though I knew full-well that it was Liza but that’s how conversations get started sometimes) and Liza happened to be walking by and she said it was her. I practically squealed with delight because brownies are quite possibly my favourite food known to man and just seeing them made my heart so beyond happy. That’s when I told Mikhail about the gloriousness that happened when you sprinkled coffee into brownie mix. He couldn’t believe it and it was adorable to see that pony-tail-wearing, Timblerlands-clad, six-foot-three man stare at me like a kid on Christmas morning. Not in a weird adorable way but in one of those life-moment-adorable ways when you’re just reminded that everyone’s got that one thing (or several things) that make them feel like kids on Christmas morning.
Liza assured him that I wasn’t speaking lies and she told me that Duncan Hines box brownies were her favourite box brownies. So of course I filed that information away for future reference.
Side-note. Pay attention, lovely humans. I can’t stress this enough. Pay attention when people are talking to you. Don’t go through life with your eyes shut because you’re too busy waiting for conversations to be over so you can get back to “me-time”. One, it’s rude and it’s not giving your fellow Image Bearers of the Most High the respect they deserve as Image Bearers. Two, you’re just robbing yourself of chances to see how amazing it is to give to others. People often say things off-handedly that actually clue you in to what makes them tick and to what they like and dislike. If you’re paying attention, you’ll stumble across ways to lift their spirits in the future and bring smiles to their faces. Sure, use the excuse that you don’t have a good memory and that you’ll forget what they told you but honestly, that’s rubbish (within reason, I know…some people really do have horrid memories). You remember stuff that’s important to you. You’ll remember what time the NBA game is and you’ll clear your schedule. You’ll remember to check FB a millions times a day. You’ll remember. And if you think you’re in danger of forgetting, write a Note in your phone. C’mon, lovely humans, let’s strive for excellence in the things that really matter and let’s leave mediocrity behind.
Mmkay, digression #3,456 over.
A hour or two after the brownie moment, Ava scooted her swivel-chair out of May’s office and snagged me as I was heading back to my office from somewhere (probably a bathroom break, quite frankly). She asked if I wanted free pizza and who was I to refuse? As if the day couldn’t get any better…brownies and free pizza. Apparently, Ava and May were having one of their daily pow-wows, this time in May’s office sans Liza, and they’d ordered pizza for the occasion but couldn’t/didn’t want to finish it all. I happily obliged them and, thanks to the Most High, I now had dinner for after my night class.
A week went by and last week Monday dawned in an array of snow and ice. The University opened at mid-day which sort of threw everyone off but in we came for work nonetheless. Friday evening, I had taken a trip to the supermarket and wonder of wonders….Duncan Hines box brownies were on sale for 99 measly little cents. So I snagged two of those bad boys from the shelf with thoughts of The Office in mind. Baked one box Sunday night and desperately hoped the University wouldn’t be closed fully on Monday because two day old brownies are sub-par whether they’re from Wegmans or not.
I trooped into The Office, noting how quiet it was. Several people were beginning their Spring Break vacations a week early and Toby was among them. Liza leaned against Kristoff’s office and rather wistfully pointed out “man, you don’t really miss Toby until he’s gone…it’s just not the same without him talking about all the food he’s eaten…it just cracks me up in my office”. Kristoff laughed in agreement and I smiled because absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.
I deposited my coffee-infused-Duncan-Hines-box-brownies where Liza’s sub-par-Wegmans-brownies had sat only a week earlier. Then I went round to share the good news as we do because in The Office, free food is NOT a secret you keep to yourself. Office Code of Honour. I told Liza first and Mikhail second because it was only fair they got first dibs. Then came Kristoff and Waldo. Though Waldo found out the gift was mine because he walked by my office, holding one of the treats, looked me in the face and said “brownies” (as if I didn’t know….these tech guys like to state the obvious and it cracks.me.up. a while back, I was eating pizza I had ordered and I kid you not, four of them walked by at different times, saw the cheesy goodness on my desk and said “pizza” in varying degrees of excitement….Steve, Toby, Waldo, and Newman…one track-minded these men are when it comes to food) to which I responded “you’re welcome”. Waldo back-pedaled and came back into view with a “wait, it was you who brought them in?” I smiled and nodded and he expressed his deep appreciation.
When I went to tell Mikhail in his office, he practically scrambled out of his chair…once again, like a kid on Christmas morning and it was adorable 🙂 He sank his teeth into one of the brownies and couldn’t stop going on about how amazing it was. The funniest bit was when he asked me if I had used coffee grounds because he was wondering if he was gonna get a caffeine-high from the sweets which he promised me would not have been a bad thing in the slightest. I crushed his dreams, but not fully, by informing him that it wasn’t coffee grounds but just simple French Roast Instant Coffee from Shop-Rite. It didn’t dampen his spirits that much but I can see how disappointing it would be to not get jolted with energy from raw coffee grounds for the rest of the day.
Liza’s praise warmed my soul as she said in real-Italian fashion, with hand motions and everything, mouth half-full, “it’s very subtle but good”. And that, lovely humans, is THE best compliment anyone has EVER given me on my cooking/baking abilities. I know, box brownies, but still…coffee-INFUSED box brownies and that makes all the difference.
As the day went on, The Office inhabitants trickled past the Keurig and every time one of them said “ooo, brownies!”, I smiled from my office because I knew it was more blessed to give than to receive. Not because it made me some sort of a hero or a saint but because giving stresses the importance of the receiver. Giving means imparting something to another human even if you never see their faces light up because you’re in the shadows, unnoticed and unremembered. Being remembered is just the icing on the cake, a bonus that’s not at all guaranteed. Only Waldo, Liza, Mikhail, and Kristoff know that it was me. Only Waldo, Liza, Mikhail, Kristoff and the Most High God Himself and since His smile is the only One I’m living for, I’d say yeah, it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
Also, Waldo washed the plate for me at the end of the day and brought it to my office and my heart melted into a pile of gratitude-filled Joy at the unexpected kind gesture. I mean really, what a lovely thing to do. They’re all just gems in The Office, lovely human gems.
“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are un-praised.” | JRR Tolkien | The Return of the King
Though my deeds were praised a bit, what REALLY made my day was that the Most High used me to spread Joy and cheer. So don’t be afraid to step out of the spotlight. It’s often the most rewarding place to be. And yes, there really is a Tolkien/Lord of the Rings quotation for everything 🙂
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |