A Different Beat
The sun is up, the breakfast dishes are washed and put away…and I just finished walking circles in this little townhouse—what now? That is a quite characteristic question of this transitional summer. Well, I totally have big ideas and hopeful plans, but it is the how-to-get-there of it all that slows me down a bit. This morning there are boxes of inherited craft supplies to go through and a patch of earth just outside my door that needs attention, but there are also bills to pay, a group Sunday dinner to plan, blogs to write (hehe), a box of donations to haul to the Salvation Army, returns to make at Lowe’s, and I just ran out of toilet paper.
While I realize that I should probably work on that last one pretty soon, there is still the question of where to begin and what takes priority. These questions used to be answered for me. Professors and their syllabi outlined the major rhythm of my life for the last four years. Just a little planning on my part made way for a successful semester in keeping with the professors’ steady cadence. However, it was not long after graduation that I felt a shift in the beat.
I was a mere two weeks into my new job at the farm-to-table when I found myself tense and jumpy. We servers do not sit at the restaurant unless a chore requires it, and there are always chores to be done. It is a good thing; it means we do not take the most convenient—aka: most environmentally harmful—way of running a restaurant. I really like that, but figuring out what takes precedence proved difficult for me. And even if I did settle on a chore to work on it could be interrupted at any moment if a customer came in. Again, that is wonderful—and serving the public is the best part of my job—but it sets a different work rhythm than I had been accustomed to. It is a hoppy, interrupted syncopation instead of the steady and regular four-four measure of university-directed work.
It was not long, though, when I started to hear important lessons through the hoppy beats of restaurant life. I came to understand that restaurant work is a constant, changing, and deliberate kind of work. It requires self-direction and flexibility, wisdom and prioritization. It takes awareness of needs and the willingness—and I-can-do-it-ness—to do something about them. It is a unique place that affords the opportunity for such varied lessons. No wonder the restaurant rhythm is so lively.
Over the past few weeks I have become more accustomed to that rhythm, and it feels good. Even better than the feeling, however, is the Truth that has come (and is coming) through this experience. Restaurant service has taught me something of the ultimate kingdom work I am called to do. The skill of prioritization, the honed work ethic, and the seasoned practice of awareness are all vital to the life-work of the King’s people. In fact, the opposite traits—unpracticed prioritization, laziness, and a myopic disposition—do well for none.
I surely have room for growth in these areas, and I thank the Lord for both the critique and the strength to do something about it. God’s meter for life is a perpetual one of growth and transformation, all directed by amazing grace. And that rhythm prevails for life.
Leanna Coyle lives, works, and writes in Birmingham, Alabama, and is soon to make a run for toilet paper. She prays you are smiling, and that today you may be blessed in your work.