working. serving. loving.

there are days when I love my job. I am never entirely sure what brings tthem on. Perhaps it is the smell of the bank, the stuffy air after it’s been closed up over the weekend. The stench of stale paper and sun baked computers. Or the feel of the money between my fingers, bills ruffling over each other as I shuffle them in quickly counted, tightly bound bundles that keep my drawer neat and tidy and under my limits. It might be the roar of the TCR cash counting machine as it comes to life, switching days and rumbling as it tests itself, preparing for the newest calendar day. Or even the sound of the vault dial rolling over and clicking into place with each number. And certainly, the customers who I know by name are always a blessing.

Though I’m not sure what it is, I can always tell when it is one of those days. Today, when Jessi smashed her key into the stubborn front door, I had to keep myself from sighing heavily in exhaustion. I do adore Jessi. But I was tired, and she is a talker and I was in no moood. It’s Monday I thought to myself, and I am scheduled for 49 hours this week. But she started by asking me about Nick–the drive up guy who I went out with last Tuesday. Has he texted me? Have I heard from him? Does he have another job yet? Is he back from California? Did he send me any pictures of the beach like he promised? And all these questions I was more than happy to answer.

Because last week I went out with this customer, named Nick. And it was so much fun. He talked openly, he has some ambition, he wants to help people, and stubbornly refuses to buy into the American Dream. He was complimentary and he has pursued me which is a wonderful feeling as a woman. He is good looking and drives a truck when he’s not on his motorcycle. He has two tattoos, one of which is a cross and he has this endearing quality of brashly speaking his mind.

But of course, there is one hitch: he doesn’t know Jesus.

And I don’t think Jessi has clued into the fact that I do know Jesus. I think she just figures I’m this sweet innocent child, and that’s why she teased me that I’m like a school girl when Nick was texting me today and Hakeem was laughing at me and I could only blush and giggle and shrug that I didn’t know when I’d see him again. Of course, there was the nagging tug on my hear that I wouldn’t be seeing him in the way she hopes for. Because I’ll have to tell him about Jesus and the great love I have for a saviour that rather trumps every other possible relationship.

Back to Jessi not knowing about Jesus, and we come back around to one of the reasons I love my job. She invited me camping with her and her boyfriend (who she lives with). “You know, maybe in like, August. When you two are more friendly and you’re more comfortable, you and Nick can come camping! Eric and I have an extra tent. And it’s not even a little one, it’s a big tent, with a wall in the middle, so you two could even be in separate rooms, but still close!” She adds this last part because she knows I am a virgin, but doesn’t quite grasp that my reasoning entails a bit more than lack of sex.

I love my job because people are so real. No one hides. And I love my job, because I love being different. No, that’s not quite right. But I don’t know how to say it. In the midst of pushing papers, greeting customers and processing hte same transactions every day; between calling Sherwin Williams to say they’d improperly endorsed a 12,000$ check and would they please come get it?–after this I am this person who is getting to know my peers. I get to love them. Today Hakeem brought Jessi and I chocolate. On Saturday Elisa texted me a “thank you” for the coffee creamer I left her, and then wrote me a note and taped it to my computer. Chuck, on the phone, laughed with me and said he misses working with me. And Abby absent mindedly gave me an approval even when I couldn’t explain what was going on, because she trusts me.

I love my job because I have this incredible chance to be Jesus to people. And I don’t mean that I’m very good at it. Today I trashed a customer who was a bit snobbish. I sort of snapped at Hakeem, and I laughed about Nick and gave the impression that I am very interested–which was a bit of a lie (with the lack of Jesus thing). But it is so great, I can’t believe that Jessi invited me camping with her. I didn’t know she liked me that much. And Elisa is so excited to start working with me again… and who does Elisa like? And so, I say all this, not to say I am a great person. Because, as I told Caitlin recently, I know my sin. And I find myself more wretched by the day.

I just say this, because I want to share what I realized on the treadmill tonight while my knee was sending sharp pains up into my thigh. God can change anyone’s heart. I am sitting on the back porch, wreathed in a halo of light that illuminates only a tiny bit of this enormous world. But it’s sorta like me. Jesus can change anyone, and for some reason I have been given a great privilege to see him do it in the lives of those I have come to love.*

Nick, David, Chuck, Hakeem and Jessi. And they are only a few.

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*Last night, I leaned out of our big arm chair in the living room to emphasize my utter shock as I shared a recent revelation with my father: “it’s so WEIRD! I actually kind of like Americans. I mean, it’s like they’re human! Isn’t that so weird? I mean, really! I like Americans?” But it’s true. Somewhere, in the abyss of the bank, between safety deposit boxes, tree batches and confidential envelopes I fell in love with Americans and their hurting souls. [and that my friends, can only come from a great and glorious God who knows no bounds]

World Cup and Religion

Right now I am sitting in my parent’s basement in front of double computer screens and discovering that I liked football a whole lot more than I realized. I came down here after finding that no channel on my parent’s limited cable is showing any World Cup. I was hoping to watch it on ESPN, live feed, some kind of game cast. I mean, we can do that now, with technology and wires and signals and satellites: bring the World Cup from winter months in South Africa to blazing hot summer in Colorado. Of course, I forgot one minor detail: cost.

So, since I can’t seem to find a free version to watch the World Cup, I’m listening to it. Uruguay scored early in this match against South Korea and then it seems fairly back forth–though South Korea is a little on the less involved side. I’m listening to commentators tell me what is happening in this knock out game. Come on Uruguay! No, no! Not Choo Young! In the box….. oh, thank God! Over the net. Whew.

It’s a silent sort of reverie as I listen to a match that I cannot see. It’s infuriating, also, because I am so visual and it is not the same to listen to a World Cup match which comes but once every four years. Once again, frustrated by money and greed–that cable is so expensive because CEOs clearly don’t make enough money as it is without ripping off the little guy. (there’s no bitterness here)

At the same time, I was reading a manuscript from a friend. I just read a chapter on sacrilige, and the bizarre realization that knowing Jesus may make us more and more sacriligeous according to the typical church rules. And this is something that is dear to my heart. At work on Wednesday, I was talking with some other tellers, banks and a service manager about the World Cup. Uiche (oo-chay) is pulling for the US and Nigeria, and he gets ticked when someone texts him updates of the games: “God! Don’t they know I’m DVRing it? I’m going to watch the —ing match when I get home! They’re ruining it for me!” And then he proceeds to tell me about the time he played in a championship soccer game when someone knocked him to the ground and called him a n_gger. So he waited until that kid had the ball, then slide tackled him, heard his arm snap and then the collar bone too as the jerk went to the pitch and then Uiche stood over him and said with a menacing glare “who’s the n_gger now?” I could have hugged him, but instead I clapped my hands and laughed.

I know, I shouldn’t have laughed at that. Uiche was taking revenge in a childish (and dangerous) manner that would have earned him a penalty had he not been able to disguise the tackle as a defensive move for the ball. But it was such a good story! And you know what’s funny about all this? It happens to me all the time. I know more about some people’s sex lives at work than I care to know about my best friend (when she gets married). And I hear more about Chucky’s arguments with his girlfriend than I hear about the Steelers.* I know about Jessica’s monthly income, how she barely pays her bills and the minimum on her credit card. Or that another girl used to be a hard core drugg addict before waking up in Mexico one day and freaking out: “Where the hell am I?!” and looking at the person in bed next to her: “Who the hell are you?!” And at that moment, she thought it might be a good plan to turn her life around.

These are the people I hang out with. On Tuesday night I went out with a customer from work, and we sat at coffee for over two hours. He’s not a Christian, he doesn’t know anything about Jesus but that he’s usually depicted with a beard in a dress with a powder blue sash. He dropped the “f” word pretty casually throughout our time together and then talked about Picasso and Dali, and his incredible frustration when people treat each other with a lack of respect. Slayden and I had an argument about why it’s a big deal for me to date a non-Christian. And [South Korea Scores! NO!] Amanda recently told me I should try a Jaeger Bomb, (Red Bull with a shot of Jaeger, yuck. I hate Red Bull). Do you see this? These are my friends. They swear (a lot) and they are sleeping around and they tease me for my decided innocence, but they also talk to me. They want to know me. They want to be known. And some days, I’d rather be with them than my “Christian” friends.

I don’t fit into the church so much anymore. I was at a bridal shower on Thursday, and though I had loads of fun, I so don’t belong there. I was too comfortable with discussing many things that Christians think are taboo (things that shouldn’t be!!), and I was too outspoken (especially for a sweet Christian girl–no wonder she’s not dating anyone, can’t keep her mouth shut, she’ll run all over a husband), and I was too in love with knowing the world and telling them about Jesus. It’s this awkward tension. Christians are, after all, my family–my brothers and sisters and elders and betters. And I do belong with them.

But being sacriligeous–knowing the people of the world as I do–has created such love in my heart that I cannot imagine leaving them. And I cannot imagine that Jesus would call me to dismiss the love of the empty, wandering, confused and betrayed not-yet-Christian for the sake of my saintly perfect Christian friends who have closed in against the world and hunkered down as though this is the Cold War and a nuclear holocaust is imminent.

So I think, I’m going to call Slayden and see if he wants to go to the pub to watch the World Cup. Because internet radio just isn’t doing it for me.

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*this is only a significant comparison if you understand what it means to be a Steelers’ fan with most of your family roots in the great city of Pittsburgh.

the guy in lane two

although, when it happened, he was the guy in lane four.

Funny story: I got asked out last Friday but a customer at work in the drive up (my little branch doesn’t have a lobby). That’s the funny story.

Punch line?

I said yes. And we went out last night.

aaaah, the adventures of sara… so interesting.

recent adventures

“almost dying at work” (or “accidental car b_mbing”)

sometimes, when our little branch takes in a lot of money, we take it down to the main branch. We have to do it with at least two people, so someone doesn’t run off with the money. I drove down with my manager the other day, and on our way back we had to stop for gas so she could make it downtown for interviews. She went out, started filling up the car, then came back in and as she starts talking to me, her eyes get wiiiide. She reaches to just underneath the steering wheel and turns the keys in the ignition.

“oh my god. I thought I had turned off the car.”

“oh my gaaaw–”

“well! Sorry for trying to blow you up.”

“Yeah, dying is not on my list of things to do today.”

“Yeah! Not looking so hot for tomorrow either!”

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“when did we enter Jurassic Park?”

Today I went hiking in Boulder with some friends, up around the Flat Irons. Someday, I’ll maybe even put pictures up… no promises. Anyway, we hiked past this area that had a sign saying a section was closed (probably for habitat restoration purposes). Jacob glances at the sign, then does a double take. “Raptor?” The sign said that the section closed was named something about Raptors. So, every bizarre noise we heard through the rest of the hike caused a conversation like this:

“Velociraptors?”

“I would leave you all behind for a velociraptor. I’d be like, see ya! and book it out.”

“Maybe Joy can save us with her bear spray.”

“The bear spray that still has the zip tie on it?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“I thought velociraptors were extinct?”

“Yes, Joy. We’ve covered that. They are. It’s just that, somewhere along the way, we seem to have stumbled into Jurassic Park.”

“Awesome. I always wanted to be in a movie.”

“Did you want to die in that movie? Did you want to be eaten?”

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“House sitting Woes”

Heard some weird noises the other day, called my friend Caitlin to stay on the phone with me while I searched the house.

“Caitlin, just tlak to me.”

“Sara, give me the address of where you are.”

“What? Why? I just need you to talk so I’m brave.”

“Why?! So that when I have to call 911 I know where to send the cops.”

___________________________________________

and tomorrow is church. and I am stoked.

House Sitting

I’m house sitting right now, it’s quite convenient as I’m closer to work and farther from everything else. It means I’ve spent more time sleeping in the mornings, and evenings drifting through bouts of contemplation (and occasional loneliness). I sort of like having a whole bunch of space to myself. I can walk around in goofy clothes (like gym shorts and my work blouse), finish laundry right away or not at all, blow dry my hair in the kitchen to watch the World Cup, and eat whenever the heck I want. Of course, when the house creaks at night and the wind howls through the yard, I do get a little unnerved. But mostly, I really love house sitting.

This week I went to dinner with a bunch of girls from work. It was loads of fun. I skipped my church small group to do it… I almost think I should feel bad for ditching out on a Bible study to spend time in a loud restaraunt during happy hour. But I don’t. It was more important to go and love on the girls and be generous to our server (who also works at the bank with me) than to go and sit in a stiffled great room and listen to believers prattle on about righteousness.

It was so much fun, too. I loved it. We didn’t talk about very much. Just work and and summer plans. But seeing those girls outside of work, learning my manager is only a year older than me, hearing funny stories about being hit on by creepy guys at the bank–it might sound weird but I think Jesus was there, sitting in the booth with us. I think he raised his glass when we all did cheers and sipped that strawberry margarita, or the peach fuzz, or one of the drinks that was ordered. I think he had his arms around Abby when she talked about how stressed she is as a new manager, and I think he clutched his stomach and rolled with laughter when they all wanted to know why I didn’t date Brett.

This is why I love working in the secular world, and why I believe that God calls us to missional lifestyles. There is no way that any of those girls would randomly come to church–seeeking after Jesus on a Sunday morning when they should be sleeping would simply never cross their minds. But Rachael told me she thinks I’m so nice that no one could ever dislike me.* I think there is more of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be seen in every day interactions than there is to be seen at many church services. Jesus is so much more present in the every day secular world than we give him credit for. If we would just live with our eyes open, we would see such great opportunities to share Messiah’s love, and then perhaps the Holy Spirit would move in us and through us (and what a great privilege that would be!).

So here’s to the Texas Roadhouse and house sitting which has opened my eyes to the loneliness of the girls living by themselves, and given me an opportunity to love on them.

Cheers.

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*I laughed when Rachael said that and then told her that just means she doesn’t know me very well. Trust me, I can tick off anyone, any day of the week, and I often do.

Dear Officials

The red card to Cahill was a little unnecessary. It’s not even as though I’m an Australian fan. Personally, I would rather Germany wins this match (and with the score now at 4-nil and barely 20 minutes left… that seems the most likely outcome). But honestly, I just don’t see how you red carded him? From what I observed, he wasn’t challenging, he seemed to be trying to disengage. And while I don’t think it was necessary for him to fall–he wasn’t diving in an attempt to take out the German player.

I mean, the red card this morning to the Serbian player (whose name I will never be able to say or spell) was clear. But this? A yellow card, and the team should have remained at 10 players instead of having one tossed off the field.

Refs. Seriously. Let’s just hope you come back to the light in the second round. And at least it wasn’t teams I was very worried about. [Although, I will admit to enjoying German soccer, and there were some nice crosses and they are fairly agressive which is nice (go figure, Germans are agressive). ]

Let’s just be a little more careful before so flippantly red carding people.

thanks.

sara

Free Chipotle

Today I had lunch with a friend from many years ago.  Of course, some of you will say that when I am in my early twenties, I have no idea what it means to say it was  friend from many years ago. But it seemed a lifetime since I’d seen David, so much has changed, so much in my heart and my soul has been molded into a completely different person. Yet, as I swung into the parking lot of Chipotle, late as always, I realized that not much has changed. Because there was David, leaning against the wall, his hair still curly and blonde, one leg bent at the knee with his foot pressed up against the brick of the building. His voice was still deep and he still had that pointy smile where his mouth drops open and he laughs at everything.

He paid for my burrito, leaned over from the cashier’s station, balancing on one leg, with a hand outstretched and asked if he could pay. I shrugged. A little surprised, but not entirely. He always was a nice kid like that. So we settled into a table near the southern wall and began to eat. I wasn’t sure why we were having lunch. David and I haven’t talked since we left high school. I don’t even know that we were friends in high school, more of acquaintances with many mutual friends.

We sat at lunch for more than two hours. We talked about a lot of things. It was funny, because he’s a S—y, the son of a former bishop in the local ward, which means that I know a lot more about him than he does about me. Not to mention my ridiculous memory that stores information about people even if I”m not likely to ever see them again. So we talked about family and what we studied (or what he is studying) at university. We covered the New Testament, the Old Testament and favourite prophets. We talked about futbol, and why I refuse to cheer on Italy in the world cup. We talked about Italy then too, and his two years of living there, my time in Costa Rica and what not. He knew two words in Indonesian and I know about ten. We talked about relationships, future plans (or lack there of). We discussed marriage and single-hood, pressure from family, churches and communities to hurry up and find someone. We talked about music, that I’m an alto and every church song is written for a key I will never reach comfortably. We came out with saved by grace and not by works; with hope that someday God has it planned and will reveal it to us.

It was a great conversation. The only problem?

David’s a mormon. A mormon. The son of a former bishop who served four years in the ward where he was elected. The second son in a familyof five boys and one girl. He is brilliant and a student at BYU–and in Provo, Utah no less. He just finished his second year after the two year time warping interuption of being sent on his mission to Italy. And during lunch, all I could think was how awesome he was. And how badly I wanted to tell him about Jesus. I couldn’t work the conversation around to that though… not today. But it seemed as though we’ll be meeting up again. And maybe then, the Spirit will move.

Until that time though, I’m praying. He’s so firmly entrenched, but there was a sort of wandering question that lingered with him. He saw on my facebook that my religious views are “lots of questions. lots of trust.” And he was curious. But we never quite made it there.

In time… I hope that he comes to knows Jesus. Sweet Jesus who frees from legalism and rules to love and servanthood.

scribbling

I wrote this in church today. Not entirely sure where it came from, but I rather liked it and figured I might as well share since I’ve been so bad at updating lately.

Matthias is standing at the door, holding it open, waiting for me to come in and be a part. A humid wind picks up, tossing tufts of cotton through the air as the trees release their fluffy burdens. Matthias’ white robe snaps in the breeze, his sleeves billowing as they fill with warm air, his right arm still outstretched. His hadn holds the heavy wooden door that separates the world from the chosen every week for ninety minutes. He looks confused as I stand on the other side of the street behind traffic that races by in a hurry to get nowhere. He is confused because even from a distance, he can see my hesitancy, or feel it. Either way he knows somthing is not right, and though he cannot pinpoint what it is, I can see the worry in his face.

I watch families filter in, children hopping on the steps and dancing their way inside while mothers fret that they’ll fall and tear their Sunday’s best. Their fathers shake hands with Matthias and Reverend Mulaney. The new couple, recently married, comes in holding hands, clasped together and holding firmly to their newfound joy as they move foward in worship to God. Matthias greets them all, shakes hands, calls them friends and even hugs a few as they pass through the doors. But his eye always wanders back to me, stuck on the wrong side of hte road, unsure if I can take the steps that will put me at the base of the stairs and lead me inside to worship in a place that both welcomes and rejects me.

A bell rings from inside and I hear the music begin. Reverend Mulaney disappears into the dark interior shadows. I can almost hear the rustle of his robes as he moves to the front of the congregation through the cool aisles that are bounded by pews filled with faithful believers. Matthias still waits at the door, holding it wide for me. He is waiting. He thinks I am coming. He thinks he can simply wait longer and I’ll consent. My heart goes to Matthias. But just as well, my heart goes to the place where I grew up. And I am consenting to God’s great offer. But a part of that offer includes a life of service even in the places where I never thought to go.

So, with Matthias still watching, I turn. I adjust the wide purse up over my head to cross my chest and let the Bible inside thump against my hip as a reminder that I am only taking steps where I feel led. And moving in the opposite direction of traffic on the one way street, I walk away. Matthias is still watching. I can feel his eyes boring into my back, frustrated to understand why I would be leaving after standing on the corner, watching like one who longed to join in something she could not have.

But Matthias also respects me and trusts me–which is more than I can say for myself. Yet, despite my feeble faith, I am walking. And in fact, my strides have grown longer, more certain, as something inside me feels confirmation. I am out of sight of the church now, round a corner and apart from Matthias and his peircing gaze that always cuts through to my heart. My pace quickens. Suddenly I am running.  The wind tangles my mess of hair that refused to cooperate this morning. Beads of sweat break out on my upperlip, am I sweating for nerves or the humid heat and the brilliant sunshine? My breath comes in harsher gasps, the Bible in my purse beats at my leg, but it only urges me onward. So I run. To or from something, I do not know. I know only this; the Spirit runs with me.

Too Sweet Pie and Empty Parking Lots

Last night I met some friends at a local restuarant here, Village Inn. It’s not exactly known for quality food, or really exceptional service. But it did the trick for providing a comfy booth and something to munch on while we dialogued over life, theology and church.

I confessed to Tammi that I don’t fit at the church I currently attend. She nodded sadly, her and Mark left recently after struggling to connect with people. But I sort of shrugged, it’s not exactly unusual. I mean, let’s think about my oddities. Last night I spent the evening with two people in their early 40s and one in early 30s. All of my friends are older than me, and that has usually been the case. I think college was the one exception, and some of that was simply because the population did give much chance for other options.

It was pretty wonderful. Sort of awkward at points. Jason and I sat next to each other, and let’s just say that I created something of a debacle two weeks ago that we had yet to discuss. But you know, we made eye contact, and we laughed, and he teased and I exposed my ridiculous naivete especially concerning money, and Mark and Tammi laughed and we are all friends. I am loved, even if only casually, in this little community. It’s glorious to sit with them and talk and even better to listen.

We stayed until our waiter had traded shifts. Until someone had vacuumed and the apparent regulars had started to filter out. I don’t even know what all we talked about; God and glory and misfits, jealousy and hopes and things we’re still holding onto.

It was a little bit of heaven to sit with people and count myself safe. As though I didn’t have to worry–for the most part–that I’d make a fool of myself. Or that I would be rejected for foolish things and frightened doubts.

We didn’t leave until 11. And then I stood in the parking lot with Jason for an hour, apologizing for my immaturity that still flares up despite my attempts to stiffle it and put childish things to death.

I’m growing a lot, it seems. I pray more, because I actually kind of want to talk with God. Jason made a comment that he grew up in the church, same one, for 18 years and didn’t know God. I am 22. I went to a “Christian” university. I studied theology, I talked it, I wrote it, I knew it.

But I’m only just now discovering it. In odd places like Village Inn, or on the treadmill; wandering through garage sales, or serving the bank by working 12 hour days.

It’s amazing. God sort of deconstructs. He takes apart my world, and it’s hard to watch, hard to experience, near impossible to embrace. But then, in His time, for His glory, he puts it back together again.

Jason said last night, just before we left, “yeah. It’s hard. But I see God’s glory. And that’s all that matters.”

someday, I’ll have faith like that.

baby steps.