When I was a junior in high school I decided that I wanted to help run the campus' Christian club the following year. At the time I thought very highly of my own abilities to teach students about the love of Jesus which should tell you just how ill prepared I was. Preparedness aside, the club really needed a senior to guide the club and so I met with Tim Harms who was the graduating president of just about every club on campus including CRASH (the name of the club).
Tim was the wonderfully kind golden boy whom I'm sure every parent wished the could adopt. He was top of his class, personable, fun, and had a girlfriend. From my perspective, he was #livingthedream (sorry, I couldn't help it).
So one day Tim decided to meet me for coffee so we could discuss my role in CRASH the following year. He was a senior about to head off to Belmont on what was, I'm sure, a full ride scholarship--and I was a junior who had just nearly failed English (my best subject) because I had neglected to write the final research paper. Still don't know how I made it through college.
I remember feeling excited thinking about "getting coffee with Tim." The very idea made me want to tell all my friends I was busy Thursday afternoon because I had to, "get coffee with Tim." The phrase itself even felt cool.
I'm sure, by that point, getting coffee with an acquaintance to discuss opportunities was par for the course for Tim, but for me it felt like an opening into a brave new world of schedules, "lunches," cool watches, and influential plans.
Don’t get me wrong, I had “gotten coffee” with friends many times before, but never to discuss anything important. My version of a meeting over coffee was playing Never Have I Ever in the parking lot while sipping on some massive Frappuccino (and to think the high school girls weren’t lining up to date me!)
So I showed up and Tim was waiting for me to order. We walked up to the register and he ordered first. He got some sort of black coffee or a cappuccino—something respectable. And I suppressed my desire to get the largest, most sugary drink on the menu and settled for (I think) an iced caramel macchiato (not much better I know).
Then Tim offered to pay and I almost pooped my pants.
My friends and I were still in the, “I’m going to see if my parents will give me money to go see a movie” phase. Paying for each other’s drinks—much less paying for the drink of an acquaintance over coffee was just way outside my realm of understanding. I felt like any second a writer from the Times was going to walk in and ask what my thoughts were on the economy.
That was the first time someone (other than my parents) bought coffee for me and I obviously remember it. I remember it because it came so naturally. There was no thought of Tim being repaid for the coffee—no relationship for him to feel he owed me. He just did it, because love does.
Last night I had the distinct honor of hearing Bob Goff speak at an industry fundraiser event. Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors and he speaks of Bob the same way I used to talk about rock climbing legends.
And after hearing him speak last night, I absolutely get it.
Bob has the most electric, powerful love I’ve ever heard of. He’s the type of guy who has flown across the country to go to the wedding of an acquaintance. I regularly forget birthdays of good friends.
Bob is a published author and I’m just two chapters into his book and there is literally (I mean literally) nothing I would recommend more than that you finish reading this blog post (and click on five things so as to not raise my bounce rate) and go buy “Love Does.” If you’d rather not spend the money, I’ve got an extra copy. If more than one person wants the book I’ll buy it for you. I’m not joking.
Last night he told the story of how he’s rescued a boy from Uganda who had been mutilated as a sacrifice and left to die in the shrubs. Bob saved the boy, adopted him, and prosecuted the attacking witch doctor (did I mention he’s a lawyer?).
Then, because Bob wants to be perfect like Jesus, he went to the maximum-security prison and prayed with the witch doctor who attacked his new son. He has since started a school for these witch doctors to help them learn to read and leave their abducting days behind. To go on any further would do a great injustice to the way Bob tells these stories.
Bob’s stories completely wrecked my perspective last night, which is what got me thinking about the times people have done wonderfully selfless things for me. That’s how I came across the memory of Tim buying me coffee.
I’m not telling you to buy people coffee or rescue kids from Uganda. Honestly I think there’s too much of that—people telling each other what to do. I’m here to take a page from Bob’s book (literally, that’s not a joke*) and give you my contact information and say, let me do for you what Tim did for me.
If you’d be so kind, I’d love to buy you coffee.
*The last page of Bob Goff’s book “Love Does” has his personal cell phone number. It’s totally real and he totally answers.