Sunday, May 24, 2009

Permission to Go

It's no secret around here that I have been wanting to leave Starbucks for a while, and in recent posts I've described a little bit of why. But I have to confess that, for good reasons or bad, my attitude about the place has been pretty foul for most of the last couple of years.

This has bothered me sometimes. I tend to take kind of seriously the injunction about doing "whatever I do . . . all for the glory of God," so the fact that, sometimes almost against my will, I have found myself quite actively hating going into work and having very little patience with customers and often with colleagues, doesn't make me too happy. At the same time, I have also found myself occasionally resenting that injunction; it would be so much easier to just relax into my terrible mood and silence my conscience about it.

Within the last few months or so, instead of my conscience's getting quieter, it's been getting louder, and I've been wrestling with what it means to disagree (sometimes strongly) with whomever is in authority over me, while at the same time respecting the authority and even encouraging my coworkers to do the same, even when it would be easier and probably immediately more fun to gripe or criticise or gossip.

I didn't really figure out how to do that.

But one weekend I found myself telling different groups of friends, "I don't think God's going to let me leave Starbucks until my attitude shapes up." The following week something happened that made me really angry. I went to work promising myself that I wouldn't talk about anyone behind their backs, but as soon as I got there I started doing it, I was so mad. I felt pretty guilty even while I was doing that, but it was kind of like scratching poison ivy--you know it's a really bad idea and it's only going to make it worse, but right that second the itch is way worse than the threat of an even worse one.

Then the person I was mad at came in. "God," I prayed. "This has got to turn around. And obviously I can't do it, 'cause I've just spent this entire shift so far doing what I know I shouldn't be." I took a deep breath and began to talk to the person I was mad at. The interaction started out kind of tense and unfriendly, but then suddenly we were listening to each other. And then suddenly we were working together. And then suddenly we had a solution. It was really pretty astonishing. After that, my attitude began to improve vastly, and although I was still really hoping for an out from Starbucks, at least I wasn't quite so angry anymore.

About two weeks later, Pastor Ron called me on my day off. "Jennifer?" he asked. "How would you like to quit Starbucks?" The church council at New Church had voted to take me on full time. On June 1st, I will be full-time Christian Education Director there. I'm so excited! But I'm also highly aware that I'm going to need Someone to keep a rein on my attitude and my interactions. Fortunately, I just found out that He can.

1 comment:

Catherine Mackenzie said...

Congratulations Jenn! I'm glad you've got this new page turning in your life... God bless.