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Cultivating compassion in a pizza place

"The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me."
John 14:21

Disclaimer:  I feel weird sharing this story but it is not about me.  God is compassionate.

Yesterday I offered an all-day training on Trauma-Informed Systems of Care and the deep importance of living with compassion toward ourselves and others.  ("Cultivating Compassionate Culture")

Exhausted, I ordered pizza online to be picked up after work, picked up my kiddo from soccer practice, and headed to the pizza place where the food should have been ready- hot and gooey!

Walking in the door, a customer was walking out and huffed a frustrated "Good luck!" in my direction.  The employees were obviously swamped with orders.  They were frazzled, working hard, struggling to keep up...

I walked up to the counter and learned, with an apology, that my pizza was not ready but should be shortly.  I stepped to the back of the room to wait.

I watched as customer after customer came to the counter and learned the status of their pizza arrival.  Some accepted the news with patience.  Some walked away with "well, this is some bullshit!"

What impressed me most was the girl at the counter.  She met each frustrated customer, each order, each phone call, each interaction, with strength and patience.  She was kind.  She was compassionate.

After 15 minutes with no pizza, I walked up to the counter to ask about it.  They couldn't find my order.  She apologized, running her hands through her hair...

"Looks like you guy are swamped," I stated.
"Yes, we are.  I apologize again for your order not being ready," she stated.
"Oh, no problem," I said.  "How are you?"


"How are you?  You.  How are you doing?"

She sighed a huge sigh, looked right into my eyes, and said, "Not well."
She went on to tell me about how rude people had been to her all evening, how she was just trying to survive, how she is working two jobs and trying to keep up with school, how she just moved to Wichita and is trying to make ends meet...

Sweet thing.  She just needed compassion.

My pizza was finally ready after an hour (yes, I did score some free pizza).  I slipped a tip into the girl's hand, told her to shake off all of this nonsense, and turned to go.  

But there was another prompting within me.  I knew that God wanted to show her more compassion.

"Hey, would it be weird if I gave you my number?  If you ever need support or anything?"

"That would be awesome!" she said with a smile.

So I gave her my number and this morning I woke up to a text saying thank you.  And then several more texts telling me about her recent struggles.  And we are building a friendship over one small, simple interaction.

Sometimes we just need compassion.

Jesus wrapped up all of the Ten Commandments by saying, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself."

It starts with us understanding (deeply understanding) God's great compassion for us.
No condemnation.  No shame.
He loves us.  Period. 

I don't know about you but I never get these down very solidly.  My life is a continual cycle of forgetting God's compassion toward me and forgetting.  Remembering, forgetting.  On and on.

But in the times that I remember, I also remember God's great compassion for others.  
I remember that others are going through some kind of struggle.
And that our work, as followers of Jesus, is to cultivate compassionate culture.

Did you know that God loves us?
Did you know that God loves you?
He does.
Deep dish style.


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