Well, it’s not QUITE the end of the year yet, but man have there been some serious developments this year! There’s been so much happen that I have no doubt that I will forget something and have a very sporatic mind as I write this.
At the beginning of 2010, I was in my second semester of college, and still working at McDonalds (I wince and shudder as I write this.) I still remember that semester quite well. I was taking a depressing three night classes (I ended up dropping one, but still, class every Tuesday and Thursday got depressing) and classes ran from 8 AM until 9PM on Tuesday and Thursday. I would work on Monday, Friday and Saturday, (I would “do homework” on Wednesday, uh-huh, yeah, sure.) Wednesday I had life group and all in all, my Tuesday-Thursday was pretty busy. School was very bland that semester, although I was getting into all kinds of media thanks to my COM 200 class, I was constantly buying books and movies and newspapers, even though I never really read them. I spent a LOT of money that semester, more than I even earned. I would get tiny $67 paychecks every week, and realize that I had spent more than that the week before. I was an awful money manager.
School and work together became very stressful (mostly because I was lazy about school) and I decided to initially take some time off and ultimately quit my job to focus on my education at Eastern Kentucky University. Part of the reason I quit, however, was because of some major tension between me and my co-workers. I can’t really remember what it was about, but I remember hating every single day I came into work and leaving very very unhappy and my relationships were stressed at work. I’m very grateful that I was able to leave and survive somehow.
At the end of the semester, I had 4 B’s and one C, bringing my cumulative GPA to a whopping 2.7, from a guy who had never gotten below a C in any other class in his entire academic career, and now I was averaging one. So added to my jobless plate was the fact that I had to get my GPA up to a 3.0 in order to retain one of my scholarships worth $1,000/semester. I was pretty chill about all of it and kept doing my thing, spending my days at home chilling out and spending money. That was literally the content of my day–I would wake up, make coffee, and play Modern Warfare 2 or Halo, or NCAA Football, or MLB 2k9. Occasionally I would clean the kitchen or watch TV instead, and then at night I would go to my friends house to watch Chuck. Lather, rinse, repeat. That was my summer for a while, but then my dad talked to me very seriously about getting a job and my finances. My money source was basically my bank account and occasionally mowing or doing random work for other people, but I was slowly working towards the negative.
One day in June, I got an e-mail saying that the bookstore on campus was doing open interviews. I went up and filled out an application and did the interview. I got the job and started on July 12. The job was a lot of fun, but the hours were crappy and I was very poorly trained. So as much as I enjoyed it, it stressed me out a lot because I wore a nametag that said “Yes, I can help you!” when I really couldn’t (and I try my best to…try my best at work.) I didn’t make a lot of money, I think my last paycheck (over two weeks) was worth 137.00, the amount of my loan payment. I worked through the first little bit of the semester, but that was about it. I was taking 16 hours (that’s 6 classes, one of them half-semester) and my dad fronted me the money for the semester, which was about $925. But without a job, costs kept piling up. I had to get gas somehow. Insurance was coming up. Every month on the 15th I owed the bank $137 for my loan payment on my car.
I was applying to several places, even places I didn’t want to work. One of those places was Starbucks. I guess I never noticed how great the service was, but it was the last place I wanted to work. I remember my friend Kyla texting me (she’s a huge Starbucks fan) encouraging me to apply there. You can see where this is going–I applied and eventually called. I went up for an interview (I think it was September 18th…if my memory serves me correctly) and hoped to make a good impression. One day I was at the youth service at my church, and right before it was time to play on the worship team, I got a call. It was Susan, the store manager, offering me a job. I took it. I needed it.
I had NO idea how great this job would be, but there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t loved. When Susan told me that it would be hard because we were going through the holiday season and asked me to be patient with them, I said, “I’ll be patient with you if you’re patient with me!” And sure enough, they have all been so good about sticking with me and my fellow trainee Shadia and I think I speak for the both of us when I say that we feel not like rookies or noobies, but like part of the team and really, part of a family. I get a pound coffee every week, I get drinks all through my shift and I get to take one home with me, and I get to deal with people, which really, Starbucks has the best customers in the world. So I am slowly earning money and repaying my dad, and he’s been very patient with me about it. Dad, I doubt you’re reading this, but I am very grateful. Oh, and this semester, I got 4 A’s, one B, and a satisfactory in my half-semester class. My GPA was raised to a 3.09 and I retained my scholarship.
I realize that this has become a blog about my work and my school, which was a big part of this year for me. But I think it’s reflective of what has ultimately happened–fairly rapid maturation which I thank God for.
It’s a combination of things, I think–the vision my pastor had for our church this year was that we would learn what it means to be a family and what it means to see God as Father. I think being on the ride has changed me in a lot of ways. It has been this year that I’ve sensed the importance of connection with the people of God. That people help us to see ourselves in a different light. Something about being around people gives us something to…dare I say..compare ourselves to. People are examples. People have giftings that we don’t and see things in ways we don’t, and overall, people keep us from living inside our own heads and running too far with our own ideas (which Lord knows I’ve needed.)
It’s been a great year, and 2011 is going to be even better. As an old friend, Ray Guidice, always says, “The best is STILL yet to come.”