Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 things I've learned from waiting tables for 6 months

I'd always wanted to wait tables. 
For about 10 years, it was a dream job of mine. And that's not a joke. 
I had it in my head that I would love it, get rich doing it, and be awesome at it.  

In May of 2014, I moved to Louisville to help my brother and sister  plant a church, and my waitress dream came true. 
I got a job at the coolest restaurant in Louisville and have waited tables for the past six months. 
I love it even more than I thought I would. 
It's harder work than I had imagined, my legs get exhausted, I often have to go much longer than I'd like without eating, and I'm not getting quite as rich as I thought I would, but boy, I truly enjoy it. 

Here are three big things the past six months have taught me:

1. life is really hard for most people
Doesn't matter where you're at in the world, life is hard. 
The difficulties look a little different, but the struggle to just keep getting through each day is the same. 
The middle class American woman whose husband of 17 years has left her and the single mom in Thailand who skips meals so her kid can eat: 
they're both finding it challenging to get through a day.
2. the reason for #1 is we're in a corrupt world. 
All of our hearts are affected by the world's corruption. 
The selfish nature of the human heart is causing life to be difficult for all of us. 
The cause of millions of parents around the world saying, "This kid is causing me trouble, I don't want them" is the selfish human heart. 
The cause of millions of men and women around the world saying, "I don't want to be married to you anymore," is the selfish human heart. 
The cause of millions of unsatisfied people of all ages around the world saying, "I don't know how to get happy and it's all I want so I'm getting messed up tonight" is the selfish human heart. 

No need to keep giving a jillion examples. I can sum it up by saying that the reason for all difficulties/hardships/awful things around this globe is the selfish human heart. 

If I look at all of the difficulties/hardships/awful things that I've ever caused other people, they can all be blamed on my selfish human heart. 
Living to please ourselves is going to cause difficulties/hardships/awful things for other people. 
Every single time. 

3. Jesus is good at cleaning up messes He didn't make. 
(there's hope for #1 and #2)

I'm not the bartender at my restaurant, I'm a server. 
Servers don't take the bar's trash out, they take the 
server station's trash out. 
The other night I had 0 tables and 0 things to do, so I went over to the bar and noticed their about-to-overflow trash can. 
I'd never taken the bar's trash out before, but I was feeling like a real selfless saint, so I took hold of the 200 pound thing, stuffed full of heavy empty wine bottles and 
chewed-on-food from the bar customers, and started dragging it out the back door to the dumpster. 
It was heavy. 
By the time I got to the dumpster, I was wondering why exactly I had decided to take the bartender's trash out for them. 
It wasn't my trash. 
It wasn't my job. 
My selfless saint feelings were gone. 
I pulled the 200 pound bag out of the trash can and the wine bottles at the bottom ripped the sack open, spilling out the contents. Soggy napkins, piles of eaten-on-food, and all sorts of other nasty, started spilling out all over the ground in front of the dumpster. 
"Uuuuuuugggghhhhhh," thought I, as I stomped back into the kitchen to get another garbage sack. 
As I picked up the gross, soggy, stinky, alcohol-infested trash off the ground to put in the new sack,
I did a lot of grumbling in my mind about how this wasn't even my stupid trash. 
"I didn't even make this stupid mess."

Then my grumbling was interrupted by a whisper that said something like this,
"I know about cleaning up messes that I didn't make."
I recognized that whisper.

That's just like God, to speak to me with His holy Voice
out under the starry sky, while I'm standing next to a dumpster, bent over stinky trash, with an even stinkier attitude.

"I know You do," I replied, embarrassed by the smell of my attitude. 

He didn't make the mess of the corrupted human heart. 
We did. 
But He came to clean it up.
My lies, my hatred, my pride, all the nasties in my corrupted heart;
 they made such a bigger mess than some soggy napkins, chewed up food, and empty wine bottles. My heart smelt so much worse than any bar trash has ever smelt.

 And there was nothing I could do about the mess my corrupted heart was making. 

I couldn't clean it up, no matter how hard I tried.
It wasn't God's mess. 
But He came to clean it up. 

Naked on a wooden Cross, He cleaned up a mess that He didn't make. 

Now there's hope for the hungry mom in Thailand, the heartbroken divorcee in America, and every sinner in between. 
There's hope for the selfish heart because Jesus came to clean up its corruption. 

I'm not done waiting tables. 
Louisville will be my home until March-ish, as I continue helping out Daylight Church and continue waiting tables at the coolest restaurant in Louisville. I'm excited about both. 
 I'd love for you to pray for me. Pray that I show my co-workers and customers the God of Love who is living inside of me, and that His goodness draws them to repentance (Romans 2:4). 
Pray that Daylight Church shows a lot of people living in darkness who the Light of the world is (John 8:12). 
Pray that my next journey across the ocean (in 2015) will be guided by the Holy Spirit and that He'll do what He wants with me. 

Oh, and next time you eat out, remember that your server is making $2.13 an hour. Tip big.