As I sang the phrase “How do you solve a problem like Maria…” from The Sound of Music the woman working at Walmart thought I was crazy.
There are many evenings where I run out to the grocery store or to a place like Walmart to get one or two things that we need for the next day. I have grown accustomed to a woman named Maria checking my receipt as I walk out to the door. Maria has a smile and nurturing way about her that makes you feel like your “abuela” (grandmother) is here to make sure you get another helping of food.
Our conversations are usually brief, but I like to ask her a different question every time I see her. The other night she started the conversation instead of me. She said, “people think I’m crazy because I smile all the time.”
As I listened to her share why she smiles all the time, I felt like the Lord whispered in my ear – “tell her that her secret weapon of joy is being thankful.”
With no one waiting behind me and a minute or two to linger I spoke the words I heard to her. She pondered what I said briefly, and said, “yes, I believe that’s true.” I told her she was a blessing to those of us who came into contact with her because her joy was contagious. She blushed and thanked me for saying that. As I walked away, she was smiling more than ever – realizing that she is making a difference in people’s lives.
This job may be a job that Maria has taken since she retired from another position, but her intentionality and attitude makes me think that she was created for this job. It makes me think about Colossians 3:23 which says,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
When you are at work, do people sense joy in your heart? You might think that since you are not in your “dream job” that it’s perfectly acceptable not to experience joy in your current role.
Whatever your position or current employment, God is inviting you to find a place of thanksgiving and praise in the midst of it. When I am weary, struggling or down my secret weapon is thanksgiving. I recognized it in Maria and it was easy to encourage her for spreading the joy to others.
Some of you may be impatiently waiting for the Lord to give you a job upgrade, but in the meantime your attitude is negative. I wonder if the Lord is waiting for you to bloom where you are planted to be faithful with the job you currently have, before he blesses you with an upgrade?
Jesus said, Luke 16:10 (NIV) "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Perhaps the little he has trusted you with is simply finding a positive mindset, practicing thanksgiving and serving as if you are working for Jesus, Himself? You can find joy if you choose to walk with a thankful heart.
So the next time I saw Maria after this conversation, I thought I would be lighthearted and encourage her with a song that includes her name, and she just looked at me with her head tilted to the side in a puzzled manner. To which I responded, “I guess you have never seen The Sound of Music?” I realized in that moment that the encouraging words I spoke the last time I saw her were much more effective.