Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of a significant moment in my story. One year ago yesterday was my first day on my then new job at Starbucks. The morning after my first day, I was overwhelmed, afraid and clueless as to what was happening in my life. That morning I wrote a blog post called “Learning How To Die.” I know, dramatic, huh?
But it was real, and I was learning how to die… to who I had become. I was unemployed and out of money, so in the context of my story at that particular time, getting any job was a cause for celebration. However, this job was something I never saw myself doing because I had, in fact, become quite prideful and entitled. So on April 20, 2010, I didn’t feel like celebrating. I vividly recall feeling like such a failure. I felt sidelined, paused and stuck. In the midst of the flood of emotions that day, I had a moment of clarity where I felt like perhaps it wasn’t an accident that I would now be serving coffee drinks literally less than half a mile from where I had so thankfully and humbly began my career in the music business nearly 8 years earlier. As I sat in the cafe that day, filling out paperwork and reading training manuals, my eyes darting toward the door each time it opened, hoping and praying it wasn’t anyone I knew, it occurred to me just how far I had drifted. I realized that over the years I had become good at what I call “sexy service.” I was great at flying first class with the artists I worked with, staying in expensive hotels and having padded experiences in countries around the world… often under the guise of “serving”. I had been polishing that skill set for years and was a pro. But with all that under my belt, I now struggled with putting on a green apron and serving coffee. What is an icon of exemplary service in one industry was a symbol of defeat to what I thought I deserved. Looking back, it was the beginning of my escape plan, I just didn’t know it. On that day, winning looked very much like losing. At the time, Pete Wilson was teaching a series about Shattered Dreams at Cross Point. Just days earlier he had spoken about the life of Joseph, saying “the value in your shattered dream is more about who you’re becoming than where you’re going.” The fact that Joseph eventually landed in a position of great influence, authority and leadership was a distant second to who he had become as a result of his life experiences, challenges and opportunities, all of which prepared him for said influence, authority and leadership. From where I stand now, I look over my shoulder at the past year and I am so thankful. I am thankful for every moment I felt embarrassed and ashamed when someone I knew first saw me serving coffee behind the counter. I am thankful for every payday when I looked at my pay stub and wondered how I was going to make it. I am thankful for every opportunity I got to perform a task that dealt another blow to the idols of success and achievement in my life. For it was somewhere in the middle of all those moments that God rewired, remade and redeemed my heart. It was somewhere in the middle of those moments that I moved closer to who I am becoming. It was somewhere in the middle of those moments that I was rescued. In the Old Testament, there are times when the children of Israel would build altars to remind themselves and their descendants of what God had done. These altars were comprised of memorial stones, serving as a visible reminder of where God had brought them from, the work God performed and what God was able to do.
He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Seat when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” – Joshua 4:21-24
Yesterday I did a few different things as a way of remembering what God had done. But today, albeit in a much more modern and digital sense, this post is me building an altar and saying both “Thank You” and “I don’t want to forget”. I don’t want to forget who I was. I don’t want to forget how God worked. And I don’t want to forget what He is able to do.
I don’t want to forget.