What Are Your Hard Circumstances Teaching You?

I don’t want to work at Cracker Barrel. At 38 I didn’t foresee myself seating people so they can eat some fried food. I had hoped to be a journalist, or author, or public speaker, or just about anything other than a hostess.

Don’t get me wrong, I love their Sunday home-style chicken and hash brown casserole. And now that the fast paced summer has settled into the quiet fall season it’s a pleasant enough job, most days. It’s just not how I want to be spending my time. And to be honest it’s just a tiny bit humbling. My sister’s a nurse, my brother’s a firefighter, and I’m a Cracker Barrel hostess, it just doesn’t sit well.

But life sometimes works out that way, doesn’t it? Maybe you can relate. At times we all find ourselves in places we didn’t expect or don’t want to be in. That’s just part of life.

What does God say about those seasons? What does he require of us? At the risk of sounding a little dramatic I think we can learn from Jesus’ example. Jesus was willing to set aside unlimited glory and power to identify with us, he was willing to submit to the humility and pain of the cross for our good. Yet Matthew 26 tells us that in his humanness Jesus did not desire to experience the cross, he asked to be spared, the prospect gave him great pain. And yet he obeyed and in that obedience he set the example for us.

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8

Now Cracker Barrel is nothing like death on a cross. Not by a long shot. And yet it is a kind of death. A death to what I want to do, a death to pride, a death to selfishness. When a customer is rude and their stinging remarks bring tears to my eyes, I die to self and serve using kind words instead of retaliation. When coworkers bring the drama, oh yeah you know there’s drama, I die to my desire to judge or scold and pray instead for peace. When I’m misunderstood and embarrassed by a manager I take a deep breath, die to my way, and forgive – hoping for the best.

Because even though working at Cracker Barrel is not like dying on a cross it’s the cross that enables me to work there. In the process I’ve learned just how much I still have to learn about submission. A friend reminded me today that God can use anything to shape us. Anything. If I spend my time grumbling or just making it through the day at Cracker Barrel I will miss out on a new view of the world, a fresh reliance on Jesus, and a deeper appreciation of people who do tough jobs.

What are your hard – I don’t want to be here – circumstances teaching you? Because I guarantee if you submit to them out of obedience to God you will find those circumstances transformed. Before long they will lose the shape of a cross and take on the shape of an alter which in turn becomes a place of resurrection. But first comes obedience.

Maybe it’s the submission of doing a job you are over qualified for, maybe it’s taking care of a sick family member who has been unkind in the past to you, maybe it’s living in a town you dislike, or being single. Any of life’s circumstances can become holy ground when we submit to God and yield to his teaching.

The greatest gift I’ve gained through submitting to working at Cracker Barrel is a renewed love for people. I just like people – I’m amazed by their variety, touched by their need, and inspired by their beauty. Cracker Barrel has broadened my scope of humanity.

What are your circumstances teaching you?

{A note about Cracker Barrel. It is a great family company and I’m proud to work there. I have always been treated fairly and have no complaint with the store. If you were encouraged by this post do me a favor and use the buttons below to share it. Thanks!}

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2 thoughts on “What Are Your Hard Circumstances Teaching You?

  1. Ouch, those words hurt but I needed to hear them friend. Thanks for being willing to be so honest. I don’t like where I am as far as physical location but it’s where He has called me to be. Either I can fully surrender or I can fight back and it becomes ugly. Jesus knows deep down in my soul that I desire to live my life to honor Him. There is no other way. Thankfully He is so gracious to me on the days I have to surrender moment by moment. I love friend and thanks for being my friend!

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