On Friday morning, while in the middle of teaching, I looked down at my email and saw a message from Chris. It said, “I hope you’re having a good morning! I’m kind of having a rough one.” He went on to… well, to wallow a little bit. And Chris never wallows, so I knew he must really be down. Basically, Chris has been getting the short end of the stick for about a month now – both at work and at home. We were weeks away from buying him a brand new truck when he totaled my car and we had to replace it with my new minivan, which means his truck had to wait… again.
Within the last month, he has also lost his computer and office at work. One of his staff needed a new computer, so he gave them his and is now using just a laptop. And one of their departments needed an office where two employees could fit and so he gave up his office and took a much smaller one in order to accommodate them. Then, this weekend, I was walking down his hallway at work and I noticed his nameplate on his office door was missing a pretty snazzy piece, like everyone else’s. Turns out, he even gave away the backing of his nameplate to a staff member who needed one. Management is management. They get perks, but they also get the shaft a lot of the time, too, especially when you work for a non-profit and are on a fairly strict budget. And Chris knows that. He loves his job and he loves his staff, but I think the blow of the truck and then giving away so much at his work just had him a little down.
I called him on my planning period and he was sitting on the floor of his new office, with boxes of junk everywhere, and nothing set up. He sent me a picture of the mess and a text that said, “I don’t feel like a boss.”
Chris is so great about picking me up when I am down, and now I finally got to return that kindness to him. The kids and I picked up pizza, chicken wings, and ice cream (his favorites) on our way home from work on Friday afternoon and met him at the door when he got home with lots of hugs and kisses. We pigged out that night, and then first things Saturday morning, we all piled in the car and headed to his office to help him set up. We spent all weekend up there, helping him put furniture together and cleaning out drawers and folders. By the time we were finished, his office looked like a real office. Even better than his big one.
But more importantly, Chris felt more settled. He wasn’t trying to work in the middle of a messy, disheveled office anymore. He had a clean, neat space to come into on Monday morning and get to work. And that’s a good feeling, whether you are in a new office or not.
Every year for New Years, I pick a word for the year to focus on. In 2017, my word will be Immanuel, which is Hebrew for “God with us.” I’m going to spend my year focusing on the Bible verse Ruth 1:16, “Where you go, I will go. And where you stay, I will stay.” I want to tune in more to going where God wants me to go and serving where God wants me to serve, because Immanuel… God is with us. And where God is, I want to be.
I thought this word and this verse would take me into volunteering this year, maybe forming new friendships, maybe moving ahead or starting something new. And maybe it will in the coming year. But I love that one of the first experience I have had with this word was serving my own husband. Going where HE needed me. Staying with HIM through the weekend until he felt better. Knowing that God uses our loved ones to meet us in the middle of our low points. What a lesson to learn on Day 8 of this new year.