Sep 18, 2008

tasty conviction

Last night my family and I headed over to one of my favorite places to eat. We don't go there often, so I went in knowing it was a bit of a special treat.
Unexpectedly, I left having learned a powerful lesson in conviction.
A couple of things you should know:
  • My wife and I like to read beneath the print of a menu. What I mean is that we often looks for ways to make the most of a dollar by ordering smaller portions, maximizing the kid's menu, and sharing things that can be shared. We enjoy a particular place in town that tells us our boys can eat off of the all-you-can-eat salad bar we've paid for - which really helps calm a hungry kid when he's waiting for those hot chicken nuggets to come out.
  • I'd been looking forward to a special promotion I was about to take part in all year long. Without divulging the details of the restaurant, I can tell you that they try to fill you up with other stuff to lower your ability to maximize the promotion. So while I looked around at tables of people who were shoving bread into their mouth, I waited for my chance to enjoy the textured bliss that was about to dance with my palate.
The waitress came over in her crisply ironed uniform and did the usual shtick about the alcoholic beverages we could order. That's fine and I suppose, only we're not interested in that sort of beverage (it's fine and all if you do like such drinks and of legal drinking age, but we enjoy ice tea as our household beverage). And so we were waiting to get a word in about the waters we'd hoped to order... while our kids waited as well. About two minutes into the list she was sharing, I politely interrupted, "Um... thanks. We're not wine drinkers."
"Oh," she said. But then she kept talking another fifteen seconds about the options she hadn't yet mentioned, in case we were interested, even though I'd just told her we weren't.
Obviously, she was following a checklist in her head.
I then looked over some of the options on the menu and asked if I could combine two things together... nothing drastic like chicken and steak, but mixing two pasta sauces together. She seemed thrown off by that - and said in all the time she'd been working there no one had ever asked her to do that... but she'd check. Then my wife asked if we could order one kid's drink but have an extra glass for our boys to share it... she said that would be fine.
Only when the drink came, it wasn't as she'd said... and the sauce I'd asked for mixed was divided on the plate - half on one side and half on the other... and then when I asked for something I should have gotten for free (according to the menu), she said I'd have to be charged for it. I politely challenged her to ask a manager, and when she did she admitted she was wrong and had charged someone earlier a few times for it.
Here's the kicker - in that moment she said, "If you can't tell, this is my second day."
Ah... that would have been helpful to know. Her phrase earlier - "in all the time I've been working here, no one has ever ordered that" sort of implied something else. That's fine and all - we all have a first run at a job, but it helps to admit when we're new.
Don't worry - we tipped well and chose to not make a big deal out of some things that could have been a big deal. But I left with the conviction that we must do more than study the menu we're handed. Think about the many times in our faith when we say things out loud with conviction that we don't really have ownership of in our hearts. Sometimes it sounds like we know what we're talking about, but really we're just trying to keep up with the crisply ironed spiritual uniform we've put on.
  • For atheists, it's the struggle of admitting that there are some good answers out there to our questions.
  • For Christians, it's the struggle of admitting there are some good questions out there to our answers.
  • For the agnostics, it's the struggle of admitting that questions can have answers and answers can have questions.
What is going on in your head when it comes to God? Do you find yourself following a checklist to keep up appearances? Or have you gotten to know the Master Chef, the ingredients He works with, what sort of process must something go through to turn out just right, and the testimony of others who have been enjoying His "dishes" since time began?
One will get you through your day with great religion... the other will empower you to taste and see that the Lord is good.
And as you "mmmmmm" out loud, every one around you will lean in.

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8)
"[Jesus] said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about.'" (John 4:32)


Anonymous said...

Amen. Thanks for bringing it all into focus.

If I'm thinking of the same restaurant, it's my hubby's ABSOLUTE favorite. I like the bread and salad though. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This post is making me hungry in both ways.