When things aren’t as I’d like them to be, I can still find reasons to be grateful. And it’s not as hard as I’d like to believe it is.
I was trying. Really. I was trying to be patient, find the positive, and be grateful for restaurant food and those who served us. But after 3 disappointing experiences? May I grumble now?
Breathe deep, Karen.
It started on our vacation. We were out shopping when lunchtime rolled around. Unfamiliar with El Paso, we saw the familiar sign of Whataburger. I’m allergic to onions so I selected a burger whose description didn’t include onions. You guessed right. There were onions. And it wasn’t just a slice of onion but diced onion. Too frazzled and tired to take it back, my husband and I picked off the onions, unfortunately missing a few.
The next time was on our way home. There aren’t many options among the wide spaces between El Paso and Tucson, so we stopped at what we thought was another known quantity—a Denny’s at a truck stop in Lordsburg, New Mexico. Their idea of a Cobb salad was the inner leaves of a head of iceberg lettuce, chopped boiled egg (except they forgot the egg), bacon, and enough potato sticks to camouflage the iceberg lettuce. I’m not a fan of potato sticks. At least there were no onions.
Here we go again.
We eat out so seldom anymore that when we do, I want the meal to be worth the money I spend. Do you know the feeling? So, ever since we came back from our vacation, I’ve craved a restaurant meal that I could count on it being right. After a week at home, my husband and I agreed we wanted a hamburger meal at Jerry Bob’s. “You know what I want most?” P.C. said, “I want their wonderful side salad.” Well. I wasn’t going to stand in his way of a healthy food option. Jerry Bob’s idea of a side salad is a huge bowl, bigger than that pathetic salad from Denny’s, with all kinds of yummy salad toppings. It’s so big, it’s easy to split. We were confident Jerry Bob’s wouldn’t let us down.
Except . . . . they were out of salad lettuce.
“Um . . .that’s why we came here today?” P.C.’s gentle response to our server veiled my inner disappointment.
Yes, I was bummed. And frustrated. An all too familiar sinking feeling started to squish my emotional innards. I just wanted something to go right for a change.
Surely, I could find something to be grateful for.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Whenever I read those words, I tend to immediately think of the worst thing that could happen and wonder, “Really God? You want me to be thankful for this?” Why do our minds tend to stray to the one possible exception?
I’ve discovered that many things in life have two sides. If you walk around the problem, like walking around the moon, you move from the dark into the light. And, like those who flip an “as is” house into a palatial dream home, we have the ability to flip our whine into a win. There’s always something good, even in the worst of situations. And God loves to transform the messes of this world into something beautiful for His glory and our good.
I looked at my plate, wondering how I could be grateful for this latest restaurant experience. I found a feast.
- The cook had made a mistake, giving me a double hamburger, but the server assured me she would charge me only for a single. (But I didn’t want a double, that’s too much food, and hamburgers are hard to cart home in a takeout box and . . . STOP! I was stuffed, but it was a wonderful burger.)
- The server further discounted our bill and apologized profusely about the salad issue. Another $3 saved!
- We had good conversation with our server and were able to show sympathy and appreciation for her as a worker. At the end, she said, “Thanks for understanding.”
- That conversation brought me up short. I used to love to interact with servers, even praying that God would give me opportunity to show care and interest in them. Today, all I could think of was getting my salad and burger. The salad incident reminded me to renew my commitment to put eternal values ahead of earthly preferences. Thank you, God, for the wake-up call. I needed that.
What do you find yourself tempted to grumble about?
I’m not talking about the big stuff. The same principles apply but we’ll save that for another day. I’m talking about the little things we find to complain about: noisy neighbors, overcooked food, slow drivers, fast talkers, and all that other annoying and distracting stuff that feels like grit in our shoes. Like my growing list of restaurant mishaps, the moments multiply, we wonder if anything can go right or why we never get what we want, and the whine spills from our mouths
Pause. Flip that life moment. Dig in your heels and determine to turn the grumbling into good. Consider it a challenge. God may just surprise you at the breadth and depth of His blessings.
Involve your family. Make it a game, like a scavenger hunt. Call it a God Hunt. If we’re to be thankful in all circumstances, what can we thank God for about this? You might not get much cooperation the first time, but keep at it. You’re planting seeds that will ultimately take root even if you can’t see the germination. (Consider giving a prize to each family member who comes up with three or more things to be thankful for within that situation.)
The irony of my restaurant misadventure was the prayer I prayed as I walked into the restaurant. I had no inkling of what to write about on my blog this week. Mulling over various ideas, my spirit pleaded, “Give me a story, Lord. Give me a story I can tell.”
And so He did. Hey, thanks Lord.
Ready for that God Hunt?