Prodigal : Owning Failures on My Résumé

This article originally appeared on

10 a.m. and I’m just rolling out of bed. It’s my morning off. I work this afternoon at my part-time office job, and I’m blissfully happy that I don’t work at the restaurant again until tomorrow.

Until the phone rings.

It’s my restaurant manager. I don’t trust her any farther than I can throw her, and apparently the feeling is mutual. She’s called to tell me that I’m fired.

I’ve never been fired before, and it’s a feeling worse than (God forbid) getting a failing grade on an English paper, because I’ve just flunked real life. I’ve lost out on an entire paycheck, maybe even several paychecks.

Angry, hot tears well in my eyes as my mind scrolls the rolodex of handy excuses. My boss played favorites, as did the other waitresses. I was the outsider, the one that didn’t come from their hoity-toity, upper-middle class neighborhood. I was the college student working three jobs and trying to earn my degree. Once I graduated, I was the girl working three jobs and trying to plan my wedding. And then I was the newly-wed commuting 45 minutes for each 4-hour shift, just so that I could get paid to have screaming mothers and their toddlers berate me because they wanted booths instead of tables, soy milk instead of half-in-half.

I was book smart, not restaurant smart.

I was the artsy type, the type that wasn’t great with mental math or memorizing daily specials.

I roll over and look at my husband. He stands at the small mirror tacked to his wall, adjusting his shirt collar before he leaves for work. He’s been working in music retail for two months, and every day before work he gets shaky and nervous, his blood pressure skyrocketing as he faces another day working on commission. All he wants is to provide for us, but if he doesn’t sell a $3,000 keyboard today, he will earn less than minimum wage. We’re working these hard, ridiculous jobs, and it’s getting us nowhere.

I feel it, this overwhelming pressure :

Make money. Pay your bills. Figure out your career. Find a full-time job. Be a good wife. Write a book. (And don’t get pregnant.)

It took me six months and another waitressing job, but I finally got the point :

If I had just owned my mistakes, if I had just taken a moment to be embarrassed by my own behavior, if I had just admitted that I made waitressing harder than it needed to be by believing that the work was beneath me, I might have kept the job.

One thing is for sure, we’ll never hear God say that our behavior is contingent on how much slack other people give us.

Thus, I can’t erase those waitressing jobs from my résumé; they keep me humble. Those jobs are a bigger part of my career than I ever planned. It’s like my mom always used to tell me,

“In order to earn the big things, you have to be faithful in the small things.”

Whether it was schoolwork or house chores or even in my relationships, the wisdom in that has never failed me. Our overall grades depend on our faithfulness and consistency in our everyday effort. We may hate jobs like retail, food services, manual labor, or nannying, but those stages of our lives are what God has provided in the meantime.

It’s a chapter in a bigger story. It’s the work that God has given you today.

It is your daily bread.

Be thankful. Steward it well.

I’ve known for a long time that God made me a writer. Maybe not for my whole life, but for a good portion of I’ve known that it’s what I do best. Eventually it dawned on me: working is a necessity, but working a job we love is a privilege. We are not entitled.

God will provide the right work at the right time if I just begin.

This is why I started blogging. In the past three years it has helped me exercise my writing muscles and hone my skills. I started by venting about my sucky job situation and all my dreams of being a celebrated writer.

Becoming a writer didn’t start with a best-selling book. It started with writing.

Through blogging I’ve realized that in small increments, my blog is my writing at work. This has transformed my writing life. It connected me with Ally and Darrel, and now Prodigal Magazine. I couldn’t have predicted that. I certainly didn’t have the confidence to believe that it could happen, but here we are.

It makes me wonder :

What experiences do each of us need to own up to in order to live a better story? What moments in your life stand out to you, the ones that you wish you could erase from your résumé? Where do we need to demonstrate faithfulness in order to be the people God has called us to be?

More than likely, those moments feel scary because they hold a significant amount of truth and freedom for us, but we have to humble ourselves enough to admit it.