Lately I’ve been stressing over things I feel to be really big game-changers for me and my family. This can get out of hand as I spend a lot of time dwelling on how things could be in the future, or wondering why things aren't already improving or changing. My vision clouds with the possibilities and obstacles till I can’t see clearly.
That’s when my supervisor shook me awake with these two words: "Just relax."
But it wasn’t the first time I heard that.
At the age of eighteen I found myself training to become a manager at CiCi's Pizza. This was a little overwhelming as I had to learn every team position and preform at the highest level for each before we could move forward into the next one. Some positions took weeks to learn. The training ended with a 325 question test that I had to pass with a 97 or higher three times in a row. I then had to run five shifts by myself with a surprise visit from the district manager at one of those shifts. If the district manager didn’t give me a 97 or higher on all of the elements he was looking for I had to wait another six months to try again. But every time I made a mistake or missed a detail I took it personally rather than as a learning opportunity.
It was the week before the district manager would evaluate one of my shifts. I was still missing some of the small details, was frustrated with the other managers for not upholding the same standards I was and felt overwhelmed by all I still had to learn in a short period of time. I met with the owner, Dave, on the verge of tears.
"James,” Dave said, “what are you getting all worked up for? It’s just pizza and coke.”
That was a phrase I couldn’t forget.
The whole company's purpose, with all its guidelines and details, was just pizza and coke. All of my current frustrations and decisions have clouded my present purpose, triggering a similar stress in 2015. I had forgotten what I was doing at its most basic level: pizza and coke. After meeting with Dave I still had a lot of things I needed to learn and figure out – a Friday night or Saturday afternoon rush was no joke – but the reality of my job was simplified to pizza and coke. That was something I could wrap my mind around and it took a little bit of the edge off.
“We have to be careful how much we personalize failure. The same mental math that gets depressed in failure is the same mental math that gets prideful in success. It’s going to be pride or it’s going to be depression and frustration, but it’s the same arrogance and same sense of self that goes into it. We are going to have failure. So if you are taking it personally then it is on the negative side of self and is a dangerous place to be.” - Chris Brown (North Coast Church)
Are you the type person that takes success and failures personally? Even at a CiCi’s job?
While watching the film "Ant-Man" the scene below reminded me of my current, and my pizza and coke, situation.
We all just need a little perspective sometimes. What you are dealing with might seem so overwhelming. It might be frustrating or so stressful that you have a hard time sleeping at night because it’s the only thing on your mind. I can promise you one thing. It is never as big as you make it in your head. If you can zoom out and look at your situation with a different lens you will notice that it’s just a toy train falling off the track.
"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." - Matthew 6:34 MSG
I say all the above as if it is easy to do. Whatever you may be dealing with is very real to you. I also understand that even if you are able to give your situation a different perspective it doesn't always take away what is still going on. This is why I leave you with the above verse. God is my strength and helper in my time of need. If you do have a relationship with Jesus I encourage you to seek Him in your troubles and rediscover how much He truly wants to help you in every moment of your life. If you don't have a relationship with Jesus then shoot me a message and I would love to tell you more about this Jesus that can radically change your life for the better – no, the best!
But this broad perspective is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6. Do not worry about what to eat, wear or how to make the perfect CiCi’s pizza. Allow yourself to see what God’s kingdom looks like by taking a step back. Remember that it’s formed by love, grace and joy and that is what helps us deal with everything that might and will come our way.
Just remember that you can't take on everything by yourself, but God will help you deal with the hard things when the time comes because everything is for His kingdom. There’s a bigger picture.
Remember it’s just pizza and coke.