Thursday, April 7, 2011

Learning the Hard Way

As I sat in the little cafĂ© waiting to finish my job interview, I began to wonder if it was even worth staying. When I had first gotten there, the manager hadn’t been anywhere in sight and the door was locked. I had to call him to remind him that I was there for my interview. Thankfully he was in the back preparing the food for his soon-to-be-arriving customers. He had invited me in, offered me some water, and said, “I’ll be right with you.” And that was an hour ago!

He had started the interview about 30 minutes before, but we got interrupted when several customers came in. It was evident that he needed help. Besides that, he had mentioned that his mother had unexpectedly been admitted to the hospital that morning, which explained his lateness. So I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it seemed like the perfect job, with hours only during lunchtime so that I could be home in time for when the kids get out of school.

By the time it was all said and done, it took all of 3 hours to complete the interview . . . but I had the job.

I went back the next day for “training.” The manager tended to belabor certain points that were unnecessary (I already know to be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, etc.), and unfortunately neglected the points that were absolutely necessary (I don’t know how to work the cash register). I knew I was in trouble when he sent me in search of a container of bacon and it was nowhere to be found. And then, the ultimate worst thing that could have happened . . . happened. Looking back, this would have made a great sitcom episode. After I had mopped up a spill that he specifically asked me to take care of, the manager proceeded to walk a little too quickly over that wet floor. Yes, he did fall. Quite hard, in fact. It’s been a long time since I was so mortified that I literally wanted to crawl under a rock and die. But this moment definitely had me wishing I was only dreaming.

I got sent home early that day because the manager got called away to an emergency at one of his other restaurants, so I didn’t even get to learn how to close up shop. And I had the weekend to mull over every grotesque, disappointing detail of the day’s events. After much fretting and advice-seeking, I decided to give the job one more chance on Monday. That is, until the manager failed to show up. I had even gotten myself there early so that I could help him set up, and the man wasn’t even there yet when it was time to open up for customers. And of course I couldn’t get inside to prepare the food, and he hadn’t called me to let me know anything.

As I walked away from that building, I knew I’d never be going back. I soon left the manager a voice mail on his cell phone, wishing him luck in his business endeavors while explaining that this type of chaos and uncertainty was not the job for me.

Afterwards I began to ask myself, why did this happen to me? What in the world am I supposed to learn from this? I eventually came to accept that maybe the lesson in this was to listen to my gut in future . . . so that the next time I sit through a broken 3-hour interview, maybe I will figure out a little quicker that this isn’t right for me.

But today, I am realizing that maybe the lesson goes a little bit deeper. I realize now that the only reason I even tried to get that job in the first place was because I was extremely anxious about my family’s financial situation. And why was I so anxious? Perhaps I was placing too much value on financial security. Perhaps I was impatient with God and His timing. Perhaps I wasn’t believing that He would provide at all!

I can see now that I tried to take control of the situation myself, rather than letting God have control. I jumped ahead of Him and His will, frantically searching for something, anything, that would give us more financial security. Now I know that my family’s well-being depends on however God chooses to provide for us, even if we don’t have what I would call “financial security.” And now I remember that God never forgets or neglects His children. His timing is perfect. He is in control for a reason – He is God! Not me! And He will show me how to follow Him into whatever way He leads me.

So now here I am, getting ready to eat an early lunch before reporting to my new part-time job as a substitute lunch supervisor at my children’s elementary school down the street. I found out about this job through a new friend who used to do the same thing herself. I work 2 hours – 1 hour at my kids’ school, and the next hour at a school down the road. Being a substitute can be challenging, but they’ve already told me that next year I may get to be permanent with a class of my own. How perfect is that?!

God, thank You for Your provision. Thank You for growing my trust and peace, and for teaching me to be continually, expectantly watching for what You will do.

If I’m learning anything since moving to Chicago, I’m learning to wait upon the Lord.