Sunday, October 2, 2011
"Purpose -- it's that little thing that lights a fire under your ***" -- Avenue Q.
It's constant. I constantly feel as though I should be doing something different with my life. Something more. I've come to the conclusion, though, that God has placed me where I am for a reason, and that reason is that He's building something inside of me because I'm not ready yet to move on.
I'm learning patience by working at the coffee shop. Patience with people who think they are better than me, people who don't feel they have time to be friendly, who feel it's completely fine to use no manners whatsoever when they order or receive their food and drinks, who feel that my entire existence is devoted to please them and that I'm not really living up to their ideal. It's difficult, believe me. Most days I rebel, if only inside, my mind screaming, "I don't have to take this from you! I work hard for a living, regardless of what I'm doing to earn it. What makes you think your job is any more important than mine just because you wear a suit and I wear jeans, and you make approximately 8 times more in a year than I do? What possesses you to think that God loves you any more than He loves me?"
But then I look at myself and my own actions and reactions, and I'm filled with guilt. There are people that I just cannot stand, who have treated me and my family despicably, and I have to stop and ask myself -- what makes me think God loves me any more than He loves them?
I'm learning patience.
I'm learning compassion. At times, I have a line full of people and there's inevitably that one person who comes in and just stands there, not sure what to order, and then likes to talk about whatever is going on in their life. My first instinct is to ask them to step aside so I can help the five people behind them who come in every day, the ones I can instantaneously help because they get the exact same thing every day, and if they would just get out of my way, I could do my job.
But then I wonder what that person might have been through. Did they just come from the hospital where their mother is dying and they just need something to perk them up because they're surrounded by morbidity and they have to talk about something, anything, other than their miserable sadness? Do they just need a smile, a little laugh, someone to look at them and see them as a person instead of a problem?
I'm learning compassion.
And dear, sweet Jesus, I am learning humility.
I spent four years in high school with basically no social life, studying and working as hard as possible to get the best grades I could because I knew my parents couldn't afford to send me to college on their own, so I needed scholarships and grants. When I got them, I spent four years working my butt off to keep the grants and scholarships and get a degree which I desperately desired to get my career started, teaching, writing, doing what I felt I was meant to be doing. I've cleaned houses since I had the ability to drive myself places at sixteen, to help pay for my books and food in college, and have continued cleaning ever since to save up for things our family needs, for Christmas and birthdays, for bills and whatnot. Living in Middlebury, Indiana, there aren't a lot of positions in writing, editing, publishing, or any other mileu I'm cut out for. Where can I make the most money with a flexible schedule that allows me to help provide for our family in Elkhart County, which still has a dramatically higher unemployment rate than most counties in the country? Slinging coffee and cleaning toilets. People talk to me like I'm uneducated. People are surprised, impressed when I can do math in my head and give them correct change without looking at the register. When I wear a Michigan shirt to work, and conversations strike up with customers about Michigan football, and one of my co-workers tell a customer I went to Michigan, they always have that look of shock on their face like they're not quite sure what to say to someone who has failed so miserably in life.
Every part of me is raging, wanting to holler, "WHY do you think you're better than me? Why do my choices have any right to dance around in your head while you stare at me? Do you have any idea what it's like to love so much, so deeply, that you will sacrifice all of your dreams, put them on hold, and, with your husband, do whatever it is you have to do to support your children? To put food on the table, to keep them in a good school? To *not* pursue the NYC life where you work for a publishing company while you're husband is on Broadway? To put coffee in a cup and hand it to you instead? DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS LIKE?"
Dear, sweet Jesus, I am learning humility.
The bar is set high. I will fail, inevitably, on a daily basis. I will make choices that don't mesh with what I believe. I will fall victim to my emotions. I will say or do something I cannot take back. But I am learning. We're expected to make mistakes, but we have to learn from those mistakes. We have to learn, and grow, FORGIVE OTHERS AND FORGIVE OURSELVES, if we are to make it through this journey in life. We have to release ourselves of the bitterness and resentment we allow to build up inside of our hearts, towards others and towards God, because it doesn't help anyone, and it only hurts us in the long run. We have to be humble enough to realize that, though we believe the world revolves around us, everyone else believes the world revolves around them, too. We have to be patient enough to take the time to put our immediate needs aside and tend to someone else's wounds. We have to be compassionate enough to not allow ourselves to be led by our emotions, but to be led by what we know in our hearts to be right and to be true.
I've yet to figure out what my purpose in life is, but maybe it's not necessarily my purpose that matters. It's God's purpose for me, and I'm never going to figure it out until I stop trying to do everything myself. I have to let the air out of my tires and let Him tow me to the place where He wants me next, wherever and whenever that might be.