This situation never occurred in my life before – not ever.
I walked away feeling unsure, a little rejected and definitely, yes, definitely dumbfounded.
John peered at me through the window of our van.
His puzzled expression was warranted.
I wondered, “What just happened????”
Earlier in the day, our family was out enjoying a warm, bright and beautiful Sunday morning walk. As we looked over from the trail, we saw a couple that we had met earlier. They were outside their home – furiously cleaning their vehicle and driveway. Long story short, someone had traveled up and around our neighborhood egging cars and driveways the night before. This couple fell victim to these shenanigans. The couple had only moved to our neighborhood a couple of months ago and were still settling here.
It looked like this nefarious act had hit a nerve.
We shared our apologies and as we walked away from the troubled couple, I thought it might be nice to bake them some brownies as a little act of redemptive cheer and as a Valentine’s Day gift.
So, I did.
I made the brownies.
I wrote a message in a Valentine’s card and included John’s and my contact details in case they should need any help in the future and I shared a little encouragement with them.
John and I had an errand to run so we thought we’d drop the brownies off at the couple’s home a little later in the day. On our first attempt, they weren’t home, so we decided to try again on our return.
After our errands were complete, and as we were driving down the couple’s street, we noticed their garage door was open. John parked on the side of the street, and I hopped out happy and ready to deliver what I thought would be a kind-hope-brownies-make-you-feel-better gesture.
That didn’t happen.
Instead of being greeted in a warm and welcoming way, the man who stood in his garage, looked at me quizzically as I approached him. He walked outside onto his driveway.
I greeted him.
And then he asked, “Who are you?”
Confused, because we had had three earlier interactions on our neighborhood walks over the past two months with him, I reintroduced myself. Then I mentioned that I had made some brownies for he and his wife because of their rough start to the day.
He asked, “How did you know about that?”
I replied, “Because we talked about it this morning with you and your wife.”
“Oh,” he answered.
I then repeated that I had made some brownies for him. To which he raised his hand towards me, and then said, “No thank you. We don’t want them.”
Flummoxed by that response, I said nothing.
Then, I said something like, “Well, I have a Valentine’s Card for you and your wife. May I give it to you?”
To which he replied, “No.”
Again, I was speechless.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to this answer. But I composed myself and then said, “Okay, thank you.” I turned around and walked back to John and our van. I looked down at the unopened Valentine and full plate of brownies and felt a sense of sorrow wash over me.
In all my years, and believe me, I’ve had many, I’ve never had someone reject a plate of warm, gooey, melt-in-your mouth brownies.
Now, I could blame COVID – maybe this gentleman didn’t want to bring my homemade treats into his house.
I could blame sugar – maybe this gentleman didn’t want any sugary stuff entering his system either.
I could blame gluten – these brownies are not gluten-free. Nope.
I could also blame the circumstances – this gentleman has never seen our van, nor seen us approach him from the other side of the street. I presented myself to him in an altogether different way.
I could blame many things. But would this help me?
So, Friends, why am I sharing about this encounter?
Well, one, writing helps me process.
Second, although it would be natural to focus on this gentleman and his behavior, instead I’ve been evaluating my own response to it all.
It would be easy for me to take offense, feel rejected, and consider what I may have done wrong to have this gentleman not receive my brownie-plate-of-cheer.
However, I must ask. Who was I doing this act of kindness for?
For the couple?
Or for my God?
Here’s something I read this morning in that regard:
I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.
I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.
God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.
Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.
When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.
God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.
Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.
The Message, Psalm 34: 1 – 9
If my purpose is to solely be focused on myself and others in what I say and do, then I am going to have a situation like yesterday happen again and again and again in my life. I will experience confusion, loss, and rejection.
However, if my focus is upon my Lord in what I say and do – then I view every experience and its outcome with a lens that centers upon my God’s honor, for my God’s praise, and with my God’s purpose.
This God-centered view steadies me – especially when my good intentions are not received as I would have wished or hoped.
And honestly, aren’t most Valentine’s Days a mix of joy, sorrow, hope, loss, good intentions and missed marks anyway?
But not with Jesus.
With Jesus, we are invited to experience our God and His blessings for this day and rejoice in Him alone!
So, let’s do that. Shall we?
Let’s enjoy this day that the Lord has made and experience Him fully!
And let’s pray for someone who may not know Him yet – and who really needs His love today.
Amen and Amen.