Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bitter-Sweet


Today was my last at Spiffy Lube.

About a month ago, I applied for a new job with a non-profit in the mental health industry, and after a few interviews, background checks and tests, I was hired. 

I worked at Spiffy for 11 months. So many times in the last year, I promised myself I'd find a new job -- after finishing the maddening battery of computer-based training, I promised myself I'd have a new job by the time I needed to be recertified; after preparing for, stressing over and executing annual corporate reviews, I promised myself that by the next time they came up, I'd be employed elsewhere; when Christmas time came and went, with a mere one day off, no bonus, and a Christmas party that I wasn't allowed to bring my wife to, I said I'd have a new job long before next Christmas rolled around; with every rude customer, burned wrist, poor sales day, cut shift, or open-to-close workday, I swore I'd get a new job soon.

There were so many things I disliked about that job.

And now I'm finished.

I never had to re-do the computer-based training.
I never had to do another corporate review.
I got a new job before the Christmas party rolled around again.
I never have to deal with another rude customer, burn my wrist, or work an 11.5 hour shift there again.

I've left for a new job that pays more, works fewer hours, offers better benefits, has weekends off, and doesn't require me to wallow in carcinogens on a daily basis.

You'd think I'd be thrilled.

And I am. It's sweet.

But it's a bitter-sweet.

The new job brings with it its own share of challenges. However, the transition is made bitter by more than that.

I'm going to miss Spiffy Lube.

No. More.

I'm going to miss the guys I worked with.

I didn't just have co-workers, I had friends - men who had my back, who supported and respected me. Men who I laughed with, hurt with, got angry with, and made fun of far too many people with.

It's unfathomable, but Spiffy and the frustrations found there, forged a bond between the five of us that went beyond that of just colleagues. We became friends.

Truth be told, these guys couldn't have been more different than me -- aspiring rappers, former gang members, sarcastic atheists -- but in many ways, I grew closer to these guys in the last year than I have to even some of my friends from church, and it's surprising and beautiful. For the first time in a long time, I have friends who are different than me, who think differently, act differently, speak differently, look differently.

And somehow, in the process, in the crucible, I changed. I became a better man - more hard-working, more self-sacrificial, more knowledgeable, wiser, funnier, more discerning. God used Spiffy Lube to change me for the better.

Somehow, this hard year was grace. In the midst of it, I experienced provision - financially and relationally. I learned more and better how to trust in the Lord's strength. I learned how better to love my enemies, and to pray for those who are different than I am. I learned how to lend counsel to someone who's spiritual starting point was different than mine, and how to show them glimpses of God's goodness in the process.

One of my co-workers sent me a text the other day. It said, "...we miss you already. Not just for your [customer service skills], but for your character...and 30% for your 'stache."

That meant a lot. It humbled and blessed me.

So, yeah. I've got a new job. It offers better pay, better benefits, a better schedule, better work experience, in a better environment...

But it's going to have it's tough aspects as well.

However, my time at Spiffy Lube is now an Ebenezer - an altar of rememberance - that even in the midst of difficulty, in spite of difficulty, and sometimes by virtue of the difficulty itself God is faithful. God is good. God provides.

And sometimes provision can be bitter-sweet.



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