Tag Archive | jobs

The Pizza Sign Man

There is a man in my city I pass very often.  I don’t know him–not his name, his family, nothing whatsoever.  All I see is a single action of his, but it’s enough to make me admire him.  I call him the pizza sign man.

For the past several years, this man has stood in all kinds of weather, from snowstorms to heat waves, and held a pizza sign at the edge of a busy road near a pizza place.  If I drive past his corner in the middle of the day, he’s there.  Day in, day out, always on his corner holding his sign.

I doubt many people grow up with the desire to hold a pizza sign.  It’s not a glamorous job.  It’s not terribly challenging, can’t possibly pay well, and to spend hours in one’s head with nobody to talk to surely gets difficult at times, but the pizza sign man continues on.

I spent a lot of years in an upper middle class world.  I worshiped there, have friends there, and am influenced by that world, even though I no longer belong there.  And the upper middle class world is no place for a pizza sign man.  In that world, kids go to college and get good jobs and become successful, those inside the church and out.  And in most churches there, those with more clout in the world have more clout in the church.  The idea, I think, is that a Christian with power and success can reach the world and change the world for Christ in a way a pizza sign man cannot.  Big, beautiful churches are not built by congregations of pizza sign men.  Modern church life and programs take resources pizza men simply can’t muster.

During our marriage my husband has had all kinds of jobs, including a stint making and delivering pizza.  People treat pizza men differently than engineers, but God doesn’t.  When the pizza sign man stands on his corner in the pouring rain, God notices, and I suspect he smiles.

My father is a PhD in Civil Engineering who supported his family for the past decade as a security guard because he lost a job too near retirement age.  Another PhD I know works at Lowes. Doing a job well is all God asks.  Unfortunately, it’s not all the world asks.  And even more unfortunately, the church doesn’t always see the value in the pizza sign man, either.

I don’t know what people think about the pizza sign man when they drive past.  Maybe they feel pity.  Maybe they feel superior.  Maybe they admire him.  I suspect most no longer see him.  I don’t always notice him, but when I do,  I pray for him.  Jesus came for the pizza sign men as much as anyone else, and he loves them and wants to see them in his kingdom someday.  When he first started I would point him out to my children. That man is doing a wonderful thing.  He’s working hard, and he always shows up.  I hope you can be an employee like that someday.

Yes, my friends with kids on scholarship at prestigious schools might think I’m setting too low a bar, but God just grins and hopes my kids grow up to be employees like that, too.  Even more, he hopes my kids will love the pizza sign men and embrace them should they walk through the church doors, because there were times we were living the pizza life, too, and we didn’t always feel the love.

I now attend a church that meets in a ministry building where homeless people are fed every day. I hope we’re welcoming, to doctors and pizza sign men and disabled people on welfare. I hope my youngest, who attends church with us, will never think twice about the status of those he worships with, because I admit there were times in my life when I did. Shameful but true.

And hey, if we could get a pizza sign man to worship with us, maybe our church events would get discounted prices for pizza.

Peace, hope, and why I shouldn’t read the news

Sometimes faith and peace can be rather fragile.  I realized that this week when I saw an article on Yahoo news about how many employers now tell the long-term unemployed not to bother applying for jobs.  In truth, I read the article and felt physically ill for the rest of the afternoon.

I’ve read enough comments on the internet to know the country no longer has much patience with the unemployed.  They’re tired of hearing about them and tired of caring about them.  Worse, they think the unemployed are living off the employed–they see us all as welfare cases, people who’ve figured out the system and are content to do nothing and let America pay their bills.  In reality, a person who has spent his or her life working doesn’t change character that easily.  The unemployed move in with family, get educated, volunteer, open businesses–they keep trying.  Yes, there are bouts of deep despair and depression when they struggle, but most of them shake it off and keep on going, looking to make a better life.  What else can they realistically do?

The idea that an employer would shun an educated, trained, hard-working employee because he or she has struggled to find work makes me angry.  It makes me frightened.  And I call to God for peace, realizing peace right now is a fragile thing.  I teeter on the edge, walking between peace and terror in equal amounts depending on how much hope I feel.  Articles like the one that upset me suck out a lot of hope.  I know God loves my family, but  sometimes he lets things get very bad for his beloved children.  Sometimes a rescue isn’t part of the plan in this world.

I don’t often read the news, and now I am renewing my vow not to read the news.  Just because an article scared me doesn’t mean anything has changed, and our plans for school and then possibly a job in another field are still our plans.  God is still paving our way for us.  If reading the news tempts me to question God or live in fear, then it’s time to flee that temptation, ignoring the wisdom of the world and clinging to the promises of God.  The article wasn’t the problem.  The problem was me not guarding against things that cause me to sin.  Just like a person who struggles with alcohol needs to stay out of the pub, in my struggle against fear I need to avoid things I know will frighten me.

It’s all very easy to say.  Most things are.  But, in light of some of my recent posts, I plan to spend more time looking forward to heaven and less focusing on making this world a paradise.  I plan to continue to look for ways my family can serve God.  I plan to build relationships within my fairly new church family.  There are many, many things I need to do with my life, and being frightened and losing my trust in the God who has miraculously sustained us thus far isn’t what God wants from me.

No more news, especially if it’s bad.   It spurs me to sin, so it’s not where I belong.  I need to focus on what I need to do, and let God deal with the impossibles in the world, knowing from Scripture that he’s done it before, and he’s good at it, and he’s more than happy to take care of his children in amazing and unique ways.  I’m reading Isaiah right now, where God moved entire empires to intervene for Israel; somehow I don’t think moving one employer to hire my one husband is really all that impossible.

Yes, it will take divine intervention to get us working again.  Good thing I know a Divine who’s delighted to intervene for me.