"So what's God been teaching you lately?" A friend asked me recently.
I thought about this for a few seconds, and then I remembered something I heard when I was praying when I was working.
I was working the graveyard shift at Pacifica, and I was feeling tired and miserable.
The manager had called me earlier, changing my schedule once again. "I think it would better for you if you work Wednesday and Thursday" she said. Those are the only two days that I have for ministry. "I can't, I have other commitments".
This was the third time that she changes my schedule.
"Oh you and your commitments!" she answered with frustration. "Jose, I thought this was going to work with you living far away and everything, but if you can't work those nights then I'm gonna have to let you go".
And so I was working that night, with the familiar feeling of failure looming over me. I checked the schedule, and I wasn't there anymore.
It wasn't just this event that was carrying the feeling, which any sane person would think me mostly blameless.
It was the scolding that I would get from her almost every time she saw me. How I forgot to do this and that, how I wasn't doing "anything" and so on and on...
She did know, however, that many times I stayed working up to 40 minutes without pay, trying to finish all the tasks that were required. I was new and my work rhythm wasn't yet developed.
I thought the reason that she changed my schedule and ultimately took me off the schedule was because she was dissatisfied with my job and wanted to fire me in a passive aggressive manner.
"I failed" I told God that night, tears welling up in my eyes "I'm sorry".
"No you didn't fail" I heard back. "I put you in this job for a reason, to grow in it, and you will be here as long as I want you to. You have grown because of this job."
It's true, I have grown a lot because of this job.
Did I make mistakes? Yes. Could I have done things better? Yes. But I am a better worker thanks to this job, and maybe that was God's purpose in putting me there.
They didn't fire me that day, as I continued to work after that, until I quit a couple of days ago, having received more hours at my job in Oakland.
We are an "end result" oriented people. We tend to look at the end result and judge the whole process accordingly.
Sometimes our extreme pragmatism, our "whatever works" mentality makes us do things unethically, overriding the common clichéd saying of "the end doesn't justify the means".
But maybe God sees things differently. Maybe he sees our experiences as what they are, even if the end result wasn't what we wanted. Maybe it is the growing that comes from "failing" that really matters.
I am learning to move away from "I failed". I don't longer feel that I failed with my job at Pacifica.
How about my year at San Francisco? I have to be honest, it's still too fresh and still see myself like I failed.
But I know I'm slowly moving away from that.
That's what God has been teaching me lately.
Photo Credit: Marcie Casas.