“It is truly an amazing feeling to stand in front of a crowd and deliver a great sermon, or to hang around after a reading and sign books. Ive never been very good at anything, so the only thing people have ever praised me for is writing and speaking. I’m not saying that accepting people’s praise for doing what God calls you to do is wrong, I am only saying I understand how it could be come a replacement for the favor of God, the favor that comes for free, for no reason, unearned. ”
Don Miller, Searching For God Knows What
This quote sprung a chord in me today as I read it. Its a simple human truth; universal idea that he is talking about. I don’t think Ive met a person who hasn’t felt this feeling, of being accepted for something they have done. In a later chapter in the book Don goes on to share about growing up as a “misfit”. I wouldn’t give myself that label but I understood what he mean to not feel a sense of belonging growing up. In my case, I always found school somewhat, for lack of a better word, a challenge. This is something I don’t talk about very often because it holds a lot of hard memories for me. Probably the only reason I am sharing what I am now is because I’m “hiding” behind a computer screen. I realize of course it will be put on the world wide web, but still not as threatening as me sitting before my whole audience of readers and saying this. I have this feeling towards school because as much as I may try, I wasn’t a very good student when it came to grades. For example, Id study my brains out and never get an A. Time to time, sure an A would be reward to me, but it was a rare occasion. I always felt different growing up because of this fact. Now as an “adult” it has someone what shaped in how I view things in my life.
Same as Don, I haven’t really done one thing Ive felt very good at. So when I shared not to long ago about getting complemented on something I love to do , it soaked in more than say someone telling me they liked my hair. I find when someone complements my appearance the out come of that has to do with my parents and God, not me at all. So when somebody thinks highly of something I recommended to them, it sends me a sense of finally I did something right. That makes me feel good, that feeling Don Miller talks about, but its kinda empty in a way. Empty because it in turn somehow gave me some sort of glory which isn’t want I want at all. I want to be accepted not praise.
Working at Starbucks is kind of a “scale job” to me. Let me explain what I mean by that. I have a good handful of friends who have been working for Starbucks for years. I have never thought they’re job is less grand than someone else’s. Scale goes up in favor of the job. But then a person who I haven’t seen in years walks in, sees me in that green apron and says “But you had such a good thing going for you at your last job” Scale goes down. Yes, I do not have my own office or in charge of anyone, I serve coffee. If you know me at all, I really do enjoy coffee, and Starbucks inparticular. Working there has only fueled that, not lessoned it. When I get comments that almost make me feel worthless, it puts me in a hard spot in myself. I wrestle with the idea that if I had only stayed in college I would have a “better” job. But then I remember a good amount of my friends who have college degrees and aren’t using them or in a totally different job than their degree. Do I think any less of them? Not at all. This struggle of course is because I’m finding self worth in people’s ideas of me and my job instead of God’s, I understand that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I know if I went out tomorrow and became a CEO of a company (not that Id ever want to anyway) I wouldn’t feel any better. The world (or say my family who I know will remind me of this very struggle on Thursday) would probably pat me on the back and say good job.
As most of you know, I get to hang out with Jr. Highers and I love it. I don’t do it because I get paid or looking for anything. I feel being apart of a church isn’t just showing up, listening to a sermon and going home. Serving in a church community I believe is part of being the church. When I pour into these kids, they repay me more than I could ever give them. That’s usually how ministry goes. You sign up love on them, where in turn you seem to get the bigger end of the stick. These kids can really pull on my heart in so many ways I never knew it could too. When they find out I work at Starbucks they didn’t give me the response I’m used from hearing. They say to me “That is SO COOL!” It makes my little heart smile, and not just because they make me feel worth something. Its because these kids mean the world to me, so when they think something I do is “cool” nothing probably gets much better than that. Part of the reason I took a job at Starbucks was because I knew it would be more flexible in getting time off for special events with Jr. High and being there every weekend.
The connection for me is that I feel God has placed the burned in my heart I have for these kids in me. He has called me into youth ministry. Now I don’t feel I am “good” at it, but I do feel used by Him. Making lattes is not a glamorous job, but it is to the kids I work with. That has to say something for my job doesn’t it? I don’t know if Ive explained this peace I have found through all of this or not, but it has helped me sort out my feelings instead of weighing the goods and bads in my life. I also hope I haven’t given the impression I find myself worth through the kids ether. I just know personally their opinions mean more to me a lot of times than my peers. I value my peers thoughts of course but I don’t drink them in as richly then something a girl in the youth group sharing how she likes having me around. I really don’t know how to end this with frustrates me as to something else I’m not good at. But, I’m not going to ponder on that for too long and just end this here, with a photo of some of the kids that warm my heart more than I could ever put into words.