When my first son was born, I was so excited to be a Mother for the first time but something else made me excited. The meals people brought – people from our church, people from our work, or just friends wanting to help.
Listen, I am a lover of all foods and the ease of being able to pull something out of the freezer or warm something up was appreciated by me and my husband as we survived those first few weeks with a newborn baby. I believed this to be an act of love from people who had had babies before us and knew what we, as new parents, would need.
I embraced this idea because I love food, clearly. And uh, I don’t miss too many meals, if you know what I’m saying. I’m what my mama calls “big boned.” I’m into fitness…fitness donut in my mouth!!! If loving fried chicken is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I view serving food as loving on someone. I guess it’s the Italian in me. So to give a meal to someone brings me happiness. Good thing I work in a restaurant!!
When I became pregnant with my second son, I anticipated his arrival and the arrival of the meals. I wondered what casseroles, and desserts we would get. People usually go big with this stuff. I had gestational diabetes during both of my pregnancies so I really looked forward to going off diet and eating what I wanted.
One of my favorite dishes to get was lasagna. I love lasagna, all kinds, all recipes. Homemade sauce, store-bought sauce, quick cook pasta, regular pasta, I don’t discriminate!!! It’s magic in one dish; delicious, satisfying, cheesy carb-loaded goodness. Bring me the lasagna. All day, e’ery day.
Fast forward several years…
I’m standing at the flagpole at my oldest son’s school, waiting for him to be dismissed from Kindergarten. If you’ve been around me for more than 5 minutes, you know I’m a chatty person and usually say something, well, you know…extra. It’s difficult for me to stand silently around someone. I will miss the non-verbal message that you aren’t in the mood to chat because I’m too preoccupied with my own insecurities; I will try to make you laugh so that you don’t judge me or reject me. Self-protection mechanism I’ve used for many decades.
On this particular day, a young father of a child that had been in preschool with my son had the misfortune of being beside me. I knew his wife was pregnant with her second child so I smiled and said, “How are ya’ll doing?”
He said, “Fine.” (Read: doesn’t want to talk.)
I said, “How’s kindergarten going for y’all?”
He said, “Fine.” (Still doesn’t want to talk.)
I said, “How is your wife?”
He said, “Fine.” (Not interested.)
Undeterred, I said, “I’d love to bring you a meal after the baby is born.”
He said, “Oh, Ok,” and his child walked up and they left.
I was elated. I couldn’t wait to bring them a meal! I could spread the love and hopefully lighten the load for the family. I settled on my favorite dish, lasagna. It would be amazing and they would love it and they would tell everyone about how awesome the lasagna was because I make great lasagna and they would be so happy about not having to cook!
The next time I saw him, I said, “Hey!!! I will bring you a lasagna. Just let me know when the baby is born and it’s there!”
He kind of waved and went on about his business.
As the weeks passed and I would see this man, and every time I did, I searched him out and asked about how his wife was doing and then I would cheerfully remind him that I was gonna bring him a lasagna. “Hey, bud, I got your lasagna coming!!! Just give me the date.”
Or some derivative of that, “Can’t wait to bring you a meal! You are gonna love the lasagna!”
Sometimes it was just a “LASAGNA!”, accompanied by two thumbs up.
I was amped about this thing. Well, I didn’t see this man for a while and then suddenly I did!
I said, “Hey, oh, did your wife have the baby?”
He said, “She did.”
I said, “Great! When can I bring the lasagna?”
He said, “You don’t have to do that.”
I said, “I know but I’d love to bless your family; it’s really no trouble,” and I told him how much it meant to me when my kids were born, the whole spiel.
He said, “I’m sure you are a busy lady and it’s not necessary.”
I pressed on, “I’m glad to bring some food,”
He dropped the hammer. “Ma’am, we don’t want your lasagna.”
I felt like I had been struck in the face. I was shocked. Who in the world doesn’t want a freaking delicious lasagna? He must be nuts and why was he calling me “lady” and “ma’am?”
I said, “Oh, Ok.”
And he and his child and walked off. I was mortified. I thought what in the heck just happened? I was coming in hot – on 10, ready to do something nice and I got shut down.
My son and I headed home and I was thinking about this whole thing, mystified.
Then I began to replay this scenario from his perspective….
Here’s this guy, minding his own business, waiting on his child. And here comes this strange lady trying to talk to him. He doesn’t know me from Adam. I don’t know if he’s on a break from work and this is the only time he sees his kid during the day. I don’t know what kind of stress he’s dealing with. He may be stressed about providing for his family. They may have food allergies, or they may not like to eat food cooked by other people.
Maybe this was a high-risk pregnancy and they were fearful and didn’t want to get too excited. That’s how I was when I was pregnant with my second son. We’d had a miscarriage between the two boys and it was a bittersweet time before my youngest was born. I was afraid during most of that pregnancy that I would lose the baby, but that’s another story for another time.
I imagine he probably began to dread going to the flagpole. I’m sure he was hoping I wouldn’t see him, and he would get a break from having to have an awkward exchange with me. I wonder if he talked to his wife and said, that lady from the school won’t stop bothering me about bringing a lasagna. He probably told his child to stay away from my child because his mom is a nut job. He might have thought I was going to try to take his new baby, the way I was on and on, inserting myself into their business. A virtual stranger demanding to bring food to his home!!
It occurred to me that I wasn’t one bit concerned about what this man wanted. I was concerned about was what I wanted. I wonder how many cues I missed from him about not wanting me to interfere. I wondered how many times had he tried to politely discourage me without me realizing it? How many subtle cues had I missed about not wanting the lasagna for whatever reason? I had no regard for what he wanted or what his family wanted I was just intent on doing what I wanted. I’m was just hammering him down about lasagna like a deranged maniac.
This situation is often like times with me and the Lord. I am so intent on doing what I want. It may be a harmless thing or a good thing, but I’m just coming with a full-court press, undeterred, without seeking the Lord’s will. He gives me subtle cues that I miss, like if something I want is just out of reach, or not materializing and I’m just plugging along insisting on my way. If I stop and listen, He’s always guiding me. And He loves me enough to set a boundary or give me a “No,” as an answer to prayer. Or maybe there’s something better in store. Like maybe that family has a private chef!!! Who knows?
But if I look for Him, He’s in everything! And He’s always merciful and gracious to “refuse the lasagna” if it’s not the best for me.
Blessings and Love!!
PS: I left message today for someone who’s recently had a baby, offering to bring them a meal. I’m thinking, lasagna.