: graduating college (what if I’m a barista forever)

Graduation day was a strange thing. Almost two decades of my life pointed to the moment when I’d get an overpriced diploma, snap a few pictures, and throw my cap into the air. I always viewed graduating as some sort of initiation into the real world, full of adults with real jobs and real direction. That wouldn’t be mind-numbingly intimidating if it wasn’t for the fact that I work at a coffee shop and have no sense of direction whatsoever.

I never wanted to be the girl who graduated with an expensive degree, lots of debt, and no career path other than liberating North Korea and getting really good at latte art. I always thought I’d have a plan… or at least a fake one to tell my parents and their friends. I’ve started thirty million applications to graduate programs around the country, looked at several internships, and stared at job listings for hours. It’s all done out of nervous energy, though, and a frantic effort at controlling the future. Do you know how many potential life plans I come up with every day? This morning I was looking at teaching kids in South Korea, this afternoon I was looking at an internship in London, and tonight I was applying to grad schools in Los Angeles.

It’s like an episode of Law & Order. You know how they bring in witnesses to identify someone in a criminal lineup? It feels as if I’m staring at dozens of different identities, but I can’t point to one and say, “That’s me!” And not in a cool, I’m-so-talented-and-mysterious-that-I-don’t-fit-into-your-mold way, but in an I’m-seriously-going-to-be-a-barista-forever way. Some part of me wants to knock on every door until one opens, but my gut is telling me to rest and wait for the Lord.

But waiting hurts. Not being able to identify myself as a student hurts. Being a barista who’s figuring things out hurts. Because it’s not pretty or glamorous or fun to explain to my friends’ parents. It’s not the American dream. It’s not the middle-class, white person dream.

I wonder if this is how the disciples felt when Jesus talked about what it meant to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at the table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” If Jesus and I were at the dinner table, that conversation might go something like, “I have not come that you might live the American dream with an awesome job and lots of money to give to poor kids in Asia. I have come that you might serve whole-heartedly and give of yourself sacrificially.”

It stings. It hurts.

But every once in a while, my heart is ravished by the thought that Jesus could be right about it all, and there’s more joy to be found in serving rather than being served. I’m grateful that God is leading me into servanthood, even if it means I cry like ten times a week. I want to grow in humility and service. I don’t want to waste my life worshipping myself. I’m part of another Kingdom now, and I’m here to serve.

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