Please Don’t Send Dwight
There is a scene deep into Season 2 of my favorite show of all time, The Office. On an episode titled “The Injury,” the shocking, yet lovable Michael Scott calls in late to his receptionist. He has not shown up for the workday, and as we watch, we learn that he has quite unfortunately burned his foot on a Foreman grill in an attempt to make breakfast before work. Michael calls his office, because his office is his family. He begs the office workers for various things: toilet paper, a drive into work, butter to sooth the burn, and most deeply, for pity and compassion. Michael’s employees, familiar with his debacles, mock the situation, even as he yells over the speaker phone for help. One employee alone is moved to compassion: his aggressively faithful assistant Dwight. Dwight scrambles to get to Michael, and though he wrecks his car and gets a concussion, he races on to help his friend. The audience watches Dwight’s frantic rescue from the perspective of the office window, and can hear Michael’s voice in the background, still shouting over the speakerphone “Please don’t send Dwight!”
Dwight is not cool; he does not embody the shiny image that Michael, in his eternal insecurity, is driven to surround himself with. When we watch The Office, we watch a man, who has spent his life desperate for friends, deny and ignore the truest friend he’ll ever have. We love this show because it makes sense of our day to day lives, by making fun of the absurdity of the grind. We hate this show because it is painful to watch Michael flounder.
We cringe and laugh, and in so many ways, are Michael. Desperate for respect and closeness to fill our internal ache. Hustling to surround ourselves with the security of image, social acceptance, money, sex. Blind to the provision given to us.
Provision has to be true as we turn the corner into this New Year. It has to be the place we land, the place where grace takes us. We are the given-to, the receivers of breath, hope, help, friendships, love, meaning. We receive Life, and we so often miss that in the scramble to create a life. We want a life surrounded by Ryan, Jim and Pam, un-heckled by Toby, beyond the gaze of Angela’s holy disapproval. We don’t want life with the other gifts around us, gifts that often show up in the form of a mustard-shirt-wearing, blindly faithful person who somehow miraculously believes in us, despite our constant fumblings.
Everywhere we look, no matter the season, there is “Dwight” provision around us. There is good we have not earned, good we do not deserve, and good we take for granted. And yet it continues toward us. Our Father continues to give out of His endless treasure trove of love. Yet I won’t welcome “Dwight” provision until my hands collapse from their fists to an open palm. I won’t welcome it until I stop passively scrolling through shiny media feeds. I won’t welcome it until I stop craning my neck toward the future dream. I won’t welcome it until I look up.
The gifts your God has fashioned uniquely for your current story are gifts He has named “good and perfect” (James 1:17). Perfectly geared toward the need you can’t quite admit, toward the shame you want to keep hidden. They so often feel like not enough, but His mercy multiplies them in our spirits, to carry us from one end of our day to the other. At some point this January, God is going to send Dwight. Even as you plead with him not to, as you want a cooler friend, more peaceful family situation, different marital status, more stable job, different prognosis. He is going to send Dwight, because He knows that is where you will be most truly met. May your trust in His ways give you welcoming arms on the Dwight days, and eyes to see that that which you do not deserve is given anyway.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder.