When it comes to eating out, I sometimes have the spiritual maturity of a toddler, which means that I can get very excited about getting what I ordered, but if it doesn’t come exactly how I ordered it I’m going to push it off the table and start screaming. Ok, maybe not literally, but inside my head there’s lots of screaming and rolling around on the floor going on. I don’t know what it is about food, but I have high hopes for it when I eat out. Like the other day we went out for gourmet burgers, you know they kind you pay $12 for. Well, the toddler inside of me was, of course, starving to death and very excited to get a towering burger piled high with onion straws and BBQ sauce. So you can imagine the pacifier falling from my mouth when the burger arrived more stubby than towering.
It started deep down in my soul.
It gurgled in my throat as my arms started to prepare to pound the table, but ended up just raised like a school girl asking to go to the bathroom. Everyone got their food and I squirmed in my seat and scrunched up my face, as my lower lip swelled.
I knew she was about to ask, “How does everything look?” But I feared that she wouldn’t wait to hear the answer, or worse yet, that everyone else would convince her that it all looked great! So I started to say, “This isn’t . . . This isn’t,” but I couldn’t even finish the thought. All I knew at the moment was that this wasn’t what I wanted, and I didn’t want to eat it.
I pushed it towards the end of the table like the pile of worms that it was and looked at the teenage waitress as if she were my nanny, while shaking my head back and forth.
“What’s wrong?” asked Pastor Honey.
“This isn’t what I ordered,” I said, as I gulped down an encroaching whine.
Nanny looked at me like I was her three-year-old charge seeing a burger for the first time.
“It just doesn’t look right.” I finally said, unable to explain myself any further.
Suddenly Pastor Honey came to the rescue and said, “I think she was expecting onion straws, but I can give her half of my enormous stack.”
No, I want my own enormous stack!!! I screamed inside.
So I sent her back for more.
Ah, Christian contentment at its best!
Within a matter of minutes I came to my senses and started to blush on the inside. How embarrassing that I loved my food so much that I couldn’t be content with whatever I got. And then it hit me, my worry about getting the wrong order is emblematic of my chronic discontentment. I’m like a rich woman who lives in a mansion with gardens and vineyards, who complains every time the breeze blows one of the leaves off of the trees. I have been given so much mercy, so much grace, so many gifts, yet I complain because of missing onion straws? How can I forget that everything I have is a gift from God? How can I lose sight of the goodness of the Father and the immense love behind everything that He allows in my life? As it says in Ecclesiastes, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14, NIV) Yet I somehow think He’s absent when the order goes wrong? I think I need a time out!
So this year contentment is my goal. It is the prize that I am keeping my eye upon. I am tired of complaining, it never brings the contentment that it pretends to be fighting for. So when they get my order wrong, or they sit me under a fan (burr!), I am going to do my best to remind myself that God has a plan for a time such as this, and tell myself that to complain about the small stuff like burger size is to reject the opportunity to be patient and kind and to grow the fruit of the Spirit in my life. All opportunities to practice self-control are perfect, even if they don’t include onion straws.