One thing that has become blazingly clear to me these past several years is that God wasn’t kidding when He spoke of seasons; just look at the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Sometimes I know what season I’m in while I’m in it; seasons of tragedy, for example, are obvious. Sometimes I can’t really tell until I look back on it. My seasons are not defined by the calendar, or the changing of the weather. My seasons are defined by what’s going on in my life and what God is teaching, as long as I’m open to hearing it. Because of that, I’m probably the only one who can define my seasons most of the time. There aren’t always marked physical changes apparent to onlookers.
I just began a new season, and this one is marked by a big outward change: a new job.
The restaurant I was coming from was a fantastic place for me for a long time. October would’ve marked 6 years there. Here are examples of things that made it work for me:
– Close to Home
– Accommodating of my schedule (and especially flexible with my kids and the three pregnancies I had while there)
– Seniority (though I hesitate to call it that) I’d earned through what I viewed as consistent and reliable good work
– Coworkers who became my 2nd family
– Food, beer and a concept that I really did enjoy and believe in
– Income; more of it than if I’d stayed at my former office job
Slowly but surely though, it became obvious that there were things that were no longer working for me. At the very least, there had been a nagging realization that this job would no longer work for me in 3-4 years when all my kids would be in school. I knew I would rather work while they were in school, instead of at dinner time 3 times a week, knowing I’d miss extra-curriculars, homework help, and that all important ’round the dinner table’ discussion. I wasn’t sure exactly how I would transition out of this into something else. I figured if all else failed I’d go work at one of the popular, busy breakfast restaurants in the area.
And then things started to happen. A few things that seemed at first unrelated. I found myself increasingly unhappy when arriving at work. Like, the angry, frustrated, continually disappointed, can’t-shake-it-no-matter-how-hard-you-try unhappy. Proverbs 15:15 says it well: All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. I consider myself to usually be the one at the end of that verse there, with the glad heart and the continual feast regardless of circumstances. So I knew something had to change when I suddenly was relating more to the despondent and afflicted. My actions were certainly on the verge of becoming evil and my attitude was already borderline.
And then there was THE thing. The ‘last straw’ thing. The thing which I knew before I walked in the door after my shift that my hubby and I would hash out. The thing that I knew was finally the turning point, that even I couldn’t make excuses for anymore. So the hubs and I had the (surprisingly brief) talk, and we were in agreement that I needed to start looking for employment elsewhere. He didn’t really care where, but I wasn’t satisfied applying at a middle of the road chain restaurant. No, if I was going somewhere, I was going to make it count. I started racking my brain thinking of places that weren’t terribly far from home that fit my criteria. And I started thinking of people I know in the industry, and where I could possibly get a leg up in the hiring process.
It was one of those light bulb moments. I messaged a former coworker through Facebook and he confirmed that they were hiring. Perfect! He said to apply the next day, and that he’d let his managers know I was coming. (You know what that means: prepare to be interviewed, just in case.) I was feeling nervous, but knew it had to be done.
Minutes later, I got a text from my current manager. The ‘THING’ that was the tipping point ended up not being any ‘thing’ at all. Nope, it was actually just an arrangement that both of us forgot about, which made it SEEM like a ‘thing’. Instead of causing me hesitation, this actually reinforced the fact that the decision to move on was the right one. The timing was just too perfect: God-incidence #1. I believe it was God just kind of stirring up the pot enough that I couldn’t deny that He was calling me to something else. “Time to go!”
It reminds me of a book I read to my kids at bedtime. “It’s time to sleep, it’s time to sleep, the fishes croon in waters deep…” I always read it in a hushed voice, because the pictures and the content call for it. God was speaking in a hushed voice, but He used really loud circumstances to assure me it was the right step.
So I went in and applied, and before I left I took two out of the three required interviews – one of which happened to be with the staff manager – with whom I graduated high school! The manager who had been there for over 5 years, but immediately after I was hired, quit. God-incidence #2. He was there just long enough for me to be hired. What if I had hesitated? What if I decided that since the ‘thing’ wasn’t actually a ‘THING’, I didn’t need to seek out other employment? What if there had never been a discrepancy with the whole ‘thing’?!?
I remember on my last regular shift I was walking through my section, and thinking, “Take a minute. This is the last time you’ll ever bus a table here.” You know, let the gravity of it sink in a bit. I’m kind of a sucker for sentiment. I tried to be sad, I really did. But I just wasn’t. I had been hard-core training at the new restaurant and I was just plain excited (albeit a bit overwhelmed) about moving onto the next season. I was filled with the peace described in Philippians 4:7 that surpassed all understanding and guarded my heart and mind from any regret or hesitation. God-incidence #3 right there. Because if it had been the wrong decision, I would’ve been conflicted. I would’ve been upset and unsure and unable to focus on the new job (which would have been fatal, because I’m telling you it was INTENSE).
One of the biggest roadblocks to me applying anywhere else these past few years has been the reluctance to leave my comfort zone, expertise, and seniority behind, exchanging it for the unknown, which would certainly require effort and inevitably, starting over from the bottom. God-incidence #4: the training program in this place is designed such that trainees are keenly aware if this will be a bad fit pretty immediately. (Apparently there’s a lot of quitting that happens before even finishing the training.) But the other side of that is the ones that DO excel are recognized. All I can tell you is I had flash cards up the wazoo and a writer’s cramp that would rival that of any professional (writer, or student, or whoever is old fashioned like me and likes pen and paper over a screen any day). I was pretty mentally and emotionally exhausted by the end of my training. I had a bit of a freak out that I was going to fail the final and be inexorably banished from ever working there, ever again.
But of course it was fine. The only question I missed on the 50 question final was one that was not taught to me. God-confirmation #5. Hooray!
And then, though I still think I’m perfecting my footing here, the managers have made it quite clear that I’m doing a great job and they appreciate all I do. This was more than a breath of fresh air. All I’ve been doing is what I’ve always done – my job, to the very best of my ability. It’s strange – in a good way – to be so frankly thanked and appreciated. And you know what? It makes me want to earn my stripes (ha! see what I did there?!) even more.
Every decision requires some trust. I trust that God was actually and literally ordering my steps. It still requires trust, every time I make a mistake and have to humbly apologize or ask a manager to fix something. But you know what they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. (Or, the biblical version: Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? – Isaiah 66:8.)
I’m excited about the new season that’s being ushered in: new job, older kids (this year A&B will BOTH be in school!), and hopefully a whole lot of fun, new adventures that I can’t even predict yet. You can bet I’ll be sharing them here – and all the meals that get us through them 🙂
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. – Psalm 37:23
Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me. – Psalm 119:133