“Is there something wrong with your order?”
The manager training a new employee had learned to assume the worst. After all, people who’ve already been given their pizza don’t usually stand around, politely waiting for her to finish her instructions as to how to correctly input product and service codes.
It’s a demanding task; those are no longer ‘cash registers’. That position is now labeled a Point Of Sale, and without intricate software and being linked to a computer plus being plugged in, they don’t work. Hence, the tag ‘POS’. Point Of Sale – though I’ve privately heard those initials used by frustrated employees in a somewhat more pejorative sense. Good thing machines don’t have feelings.
There I stood, holding my masterpiece from Papa Murphy’s aloft, just like a server carrying a tray. Half all-meat, half beef and onion. I love all-meat, while Babycakes more enjoys the simpler fare. It’s never a problem at Papa Murph’s. And since they’re straight north up Webb Road to 21st, it’s perfect for a convertible lover like me to enjoy the drive up there and back.
Papa Murphy’s isn’t an eat-in kind of place. Customers having received their order don’t stand around waiting. I was. The busy manager/trainer naturally figured I had a complaint.
My face, though, was pleasant, which had her puzzled. I smiled and looked right at her as I said, “Oh, no. It’s perfect, just as I’ve come to expect from you. I’m an encourager.” Shifting my gaze to the new employee who exhibited all the signs of head-shaking frustration at not yet getting it right, yet determined to learn, I smiled, called her by name, and said the last thing she expected.
“Everybody has had to start something new. All of us. It’s a lot of work all at once, and it’s easy to get discouraged. I’ve been watching you, and want you to know you’re doing a terrific job. Thank you.” And I turned on my heel and breezed out, leaving shocked staff and several other jaw-dropped customers looking at one another, muttering.
Trouble blindsides us all. Mark Twain said, “Trouble has done it! Bilgewater trouble has brought this premature balditude to my head!” He’d read it in the Bible at some point. . . “Every day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Nobody’s immune. Neither power – real or imagined – nor money nor position/title keeps trouble away.
I’ve been where that young woman was. No, not preparing pizza, but in food service. It’s tough trying to absorb a thousand combinations of this topping or that crust or this special request while pasting on a smile for customers way too often cranky from their own set of troubles, hungry and in a hurry. When they’re stacked 5 deep, each bobbing back and forth and wondering what the holdup is, added frustration means hurry-up errors – which then must be overridden and done correctly.
It’s not the trouble, friend. That comes to us all. It’s what you choose to do about it when trouble hits. It’s what you choose to allow that trouble to do in and through you. Everything you face, and the way you decide to face it builds character, and not just yours.
Someone is always watching your ‘now’. They see what happens to you and they scrutinize how you handle it. That’s why parents are often embarrassed to hear their grown-up kids say things like, “I grew up watching and listening to you. What did you expect?” Yes. That only goes so far. You can change the way you respond at any point! The issue is you don’t have to set yourself up to need to unlearn bad reactions and habits by relearning good ones.
Reading in Hebrews, this phrase caught me again as I considered how God leads us through trials and life’s troubles: “. . . but You answered him (Jesus) by raising him from death, rather than saving him from dying” (5:7-10). Could God have just rolled up his sleeve, baring one huge, impossibly-buffed gun and swiped every little bit of trouble out of Jesus’s way? Duh. Right?
He didn’t because there was more value in not only Jesus’s obedience, but in the example set for those looking on, watching how He chose to respond.
It’s true for you and I, too.
The habits you form will make or break you.
It’s not the trouble. That’s a universal thing. If you’ve somehow been sheltered from it by whatever means, just hang on, Sloopy. The real McCoy is coming. Just take a number and be patient. Life will get to you shortly.
It’s not the trouble, friend. It’s how you choose to let it affect you, how you use it to strengthen your resolve to toughen up; or let it dissolve you into a whiney, high-maintenance, demanding mess who makes life difficult for those close by.
The habits you form will make or break you. Becoming a Christian doesn’t erase those; God didn’t install them; you did. You’re the one to decide which are worth keeping and which need deleting and replacing.
If you choose the former, you’ll draw those close by and watching toward you. If the latter, you’ll eventually drive them all away.
Let me encourage you to become a man or woman who understands the value of occasional bouts with life’s troubles in making you tougher and stronger. Be being one who knows the value of being an example in the midst of those troubles for others looking on who themselves may be dangerously close to getting discouraged and quitting.
It doesn’t take much time or effort.
It can be as simple as buying a pizza.
© D. Dean Boone, September 2015