altarstones

My Altar

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.

.

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Grant JenkinsMy Altar
13 comments
pdmalm
pdmalm

What a wonderful, transparent post Grant. Over the last year I've been through a similar set of circumstances and just as you experienced, it's in those "valleys" of our lives that God can do His Work on our hearts, and begin transforming us into the people He wants us to be.

Have a Blessed Day!

mylifex5
mylifex5

Wow! I love this post! We must never forget who we were, where we were, and what God has done for us and through us. I'm going to find your on facebook and follow you through networked blogs.

cupojoegirl
cupojoegirl

Wow! This is an awesome post! I am not trying toot my own horn hear but I wrote a post a couple weeks ago called Coffee...on the Rock. It's my alter where I don't forget either. Thank you for your twitter follow. I am definitely following back!

Evie Nicole
Evie Nicole

Proud of you buddy boy. Thanks for sharing your heart and building your altar here. It helps us to remember and reflect on where we've come from and what God's done in our lives as well.

See you this weekend!

C.A.
C.A.

Both the experience and the guileless retelling of it are very moving. What a work He's doing. I'm normally a silent reader but couldn't leave without commenting. Thanks for this.

Lindsay
Lindsay

Thank you for sharing. This is a good reminder for me.

Shari
Shari

Thank you for sharing your altar. This happened to me in 2003 and that year began the most painful, often humiliating, but ultimately amazing year of my life truly seeing who I am in relationship to the Almighty sovereign God. I never want to forget either! Reading this reminds me again not ever to forget!

Amy A.
Amy A.

Awesome stuff! I often wrestle with the internal debate of whether I'm in the industry because of the same idols of success and achievement or if I'm in it because I love it and am attempting to be a positive light to those I work with and for in an industry that is typically run by deception and greed. It's a very thin line for me. Some days I think I'm right on track and some days I feel like I was built for so much more. It's a tough battle. Your tranformation over the past year is inspiring, Grant and I'm glad I've had the chance to see a small part of it! Love ya buddy!

Leslie
Leslie

This is great! Thanks so much for sharing.

Hisloverevealed
Hisloverevealed

Oh how I needed this at this very moment in my life. I am reminded that God is tearing down & rebuilding in me with an intentional purpose in spite of how embarrassed I may feel within my circumstances. Thankful for your story & your transparency

Nolan Bobbitt
Nolan Bobbitt

Hey Grant, congratulations on such a significant milestone. It's amazing to see how God uses what we consider to be "dead ends" in order to birth "new beginnings" in our respective journeys.
Four years ago, after being caught in the political crossfire of a church power struggle, I chose to resign from a church position that provided a nice salary and comfortable home nestled in the Rocky Mountains because I felt like it was what God wanted me to do and because I felt it would be best for my family. So we packed some of our stuff (and put the rest in a storage unit) and headed home to live with my wife's parents in a suburb of Memphis. With a pretty decent resume, and several good leads, I thought I would have another church job before my daughter started school in the fall. Today I find myself about a month from my 4th anniversary as a shift supervisor for Starbucks and I don't know if I will ever serve a church vocationally again. If I do, whatever church hires me will have a much better and well-grounded pastor than they would have if I had been hired by them four years ago. The journey God has taken me on has had moments of embarrassment and humiliation like you mentioned, but it has also been the greatest learning experience of my life. It has been through serving as a barista anchoring the morning shift at my suburban Starbucks that I have learned to look at the crowd and be moved with compassion for the sheep who have no shepherd. I have learned to love people where they are, rather than judging where I think they ought to be. I have tried to make the most out of valuing people by remembering their names and drinks and showing that you can potentially make an eternal impact heavily investing 30 seconds a day in people when they pick up their morning brew.
Over the last four years, I have developed significant friendships with people who are nothing like me...I even had a lesbian co-worker recently ask me if I would officiate her wedding to her girlfriend (I don't think many pastors have probably fielded that grounder before). My first year at Starbucks, I grew to know and love a young co-worker who is an atheist yet calls me his brother even to this day. I experienced an unexplainable measure of God's love being poured out on my life through this atheist kid!
Your post has stirred a great deal of emotions in me. Happiness, because it seems like we learned many of the same lessons through our barista days. Perhaps a hint of jealousy because I still find myself staring at my small paycheck and meagerly providing for my family that deserves so much more than I am able to give them at this point in my life. Hope, that when this chapter of my life ends that I will still carry in my heart the fond remembrances of a journey that God made me take because I would have been too weak to choose such a difficult yet necessary path.
Thanks again for sharing your journey and for taking a moment to read about mine!

rebekah
rebekah

grant, i don't know, but i might be close to living your story a year later. my last day at my current job is 2 weeks from tomorrow. i don't have another job as of yet. but i fully believe that God will provide a job. does that mean starbucks? perhaps. but i just think it's so neat how God brings us from places. i mean, He brought us to that place. He knew exactly what He was doing when you left your job before starbucks. i don't know what i'm trying to say, but this is just a great post. thanks for sharing.

kevin
kevin

Love it. Love your perspective and honesty. Refreshing stuff. Grateful for your story.