Lessons from the Lunch Lady: Serving Humble Pie

“So, are you a teacher?”

Trevor, the boys and I were at the USF Credit Union opening up a new account for me, and the young man entering our information was eager to start conversation. Cole and Chase were side by side on the floor, quietly playing on their DS as I curled my toes into my flip flops.

An answer percolated in my mouth and slipped to the tip of my tongue.

Why, yes I am. I’m an English teacher, molding the minds of the young. I teach literature and analyze Shakespeare with 11th and 12th graders. I spend my days dissecting sentences and reading passages aloud and my evenings marking up the essays of my students.

Big, ugly, clucking, LIE.

I unroll my heavy, disobedient tongue, in the process swallowing the bitter soul food no one likes to eat.

Pride.

Yes, Lord, I’d like a large piece of humble pie. Extra whip cream please?

So I swallow my pride in one big gulp. Down it goes, chasing away the butterflies in my tummy and opening my mouth for the truth.

“Actually, no. I’ve taken a part-time position at a middle school as a student nutrition assistant.”

He looks at me blankly, then quickly masks it with a weak smile. Confusion lights his eyes. Surprise, surprise.

It’s been precisely three minutes since I told him Trev and I graduated from USF nearly a decade prior, our majors Engineering and English Education.

“I’m a lunch lady.” Well there you go, pride. Down you go. I wonder how fake my smile looks.

There’s a very pregnant pause.

“Oh, okay. That’s nice. I bet it works well with your children’s school schedules?” I nod and smile at his polite words.

The loan officer’s typing speed picks up, long fingers devouring the keyboard. We finish up the paperwork, his questions now focused on checks and debit cards and pin numbers.

I feel my tummy fluttering again. Up comes that pride again, unsettled and stubborn, growing exponentially.

“I wanted part-time because it allows time to write and be home with the kids before and after school. I’m a writer. I’ve been published twice in a local Tampa Bay magazine and online a few times. I wrote a book I’ll be sending to agents and editors soon.”

I picture a clown at a circus, bright red fingers gripping the air compressor while blowing up a balloon. Kids scream excitedly as the balloon grows bigger and bigger, expanding, stretching…

POP! There goes my pride.

A few minutes later we walk out of the bank into the hot and stormy September afternoon. I’m weary, and the only sustenance is the bland but nutritious humble pie I swallowed grudgingly, though there’s little of it left in my system.

After 7 ½ years as a stay-at-home mom, my life has taken on a new normal. For 5 hours each day I serve people not in my family. Strangers? Not for long. It’s a hard, hectic, HOT job, paying less than the job I had in college 12 years ago.

I work in the kitchen preparing food for 6th, 7th and 8th graders at a nearby middle school. I can’t say I love it, but I can say following God’s will is truly awesome. I’m exactly where God wants me, and I want to honor Him by being faithful in what He’s given me to do. 

Even if I have to fill up on humble pie from time to time.

The blessings are adding up. I’m sweetly mothered by a couple of the older lunch ladies, and I serve the teachers and special needs kids their lunches each day. The teachers trail in weary, hopeful, beaten down, hungry for food and adult conversation, and I pray I’m able to lift their day with a smile and warm greeting.

And the kids…Manny, Leo, Krissy, and Nicholas press eager faces against my window at noon, their smiles like beams of golden light. Just a few days into this job and I’m falling for them. I want to do the best I can to smile back and serve the kids food and God’s love.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” 

 Mark 10:45

But I also must share about God’s perfect provision. Cole and Chase attend a wonderful Christian school that we really love and believe in. The boys’ education has been phenomenal and both boys are thriving in their small classrooms. Trev and I prayed hard about keeping the boys in the school, and we figured out that the amount of money I make as a lunch lady covers the boys’ tuition nearly to the dollar amount.

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:19

So here’s the deal. I’m a lunch lady. I write on the side. If I publish a book one day, well, that’ll be the cherry (or two) on the whip cream on the pie.

Sometimes it’s humble, though I prefer apple.

But the best part of all? I work for the most awesome, amazing Boss in the universe.

“And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

 Micah 6:8 

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from the Lunch Lady: Serving Humble Pie

  1. Mindy Pittman September 25, 2011 at 11:43 pm Reply

    I loved it.

  2. bluecottonmemory September 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm Reply

    I’m looking for a job, too – and it does play with your mind, your pride and sense of self. Your experience encouraged me:)

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