Shortly after the New Year, I struck gold with a little part-time job at an equally little coffee shop. It’s a perfect fit for me, as far as jobs go, because it involves coffee, people, and shifts that tuck neatly into my schedule. Not to mention, a few hours brewing espresso makes my espresso-colored locks smell like the heavenly beverage for the rest of the day – a bonus, for sure.
Ironically, a day at the coffee shop looks much like a normal day at home. I wash dishes, vacuum, and make lots of coffee, but I net a much lower hourly wage doing these tasks at home. To be honest, getting paid to wipe tables adds a certain gladness to the mundane task, which is usually the case when you add money to the mix. I’m like a kid in a tree house, busy with sweeping, tidying, and humming, content to spend an afternoon away from real life – the same real life that has trained me well for this job since I was about 20. Chores are second nature for me, and now I get paid to do them. It’s quite exhilarating.
The good-natured customers, usually just as pumped to order coffee as I am to brew it, are the best part of the job. I love the small talk. Naturally, the weather gets more than its fair share as topic matter. Some patrons let you in on their day’s plans. Other folks launch into an itemized description of their morning workout. As a fitness enthusiast, let me assure you that if you’re not inside a gym, few want to hear about your workout. Unless it includes an engaging sentence like, “…then I flew off the treadmill” or “…that’s how I busted my nose with a thirty pound kettlebell”, in which case everyone wants to hear about your workout. They probably want to hear every detail several times, in fact.
Small talk is great, but the deeper connections are better. There are laments over defeating days and there are exuberant announcements of happy news. Even more wonderful are the dialogues that remind me Jesus is very much alive and active in people’s day-to-day lives, including mine.
It’s good for me to be interrupted, to pause for a chat, because I tend to operate according to a to-do list. I need to be pulled away. I need people. When a customer walks in the door, I stop what I’m doing and give them my full attention. Housework trained me for my coffee shop job, and being a barista is returning the favor by training me to be better at home. At work or at home, interruptions never cease and neither does my to-do list. I’m allowing interruptions to grow my patience, not test my patience.
Jesus stopped for people. No matter what was on His list for the day (and trust me, Jesus was waaaaay busier than you or me) people and their needs were always the most important. He made time for people. He loves people, and He told us to do the same. Love is an action, but not so much an act of being busy. Love is often shown best when we pause.
Loving others as perfectly as Jesus loves and pausing for people as graciously as Jesus did is going to be a full time gig for the rest of my life. I’m going to need a lot more training. Fortunately, I know Jesus will continue to take the time to train me. And if I find I need a pick-me-up during these sessions of life-long learning, I know a place that makes really tasty coffee.