Radioactive – (Kings Of Leon)
1 millimeter. Generally, a millimeter is the smallest measurement on a metric ruler. How could it be possible that it could have such a big impact on my life? And maybe your life too?
(Before I go any further I just want to sincerely say “thank you…” to everyone who has responded, reached out, commented, sent me messages, talked to me in person, offered advice, guidance, and help…even if it’s just a little note that you sent me, it’s encouraging and it’s definitely what this is all about. People loving and helping each other, so “thank you.”)
I’ve always looked at my life like a giant puzzle, as if I were constantly searching for the right pieces…the ones that looked like they could fit…but when “I” tried to make them fit they never really did…and when “I” thought my way would work better it never quite worked at all. This was one of those days when I found a piece to my puzzle. The smallest piece was going to help me start connecting the larger pieces. When I was a bartender in Oxford, MS, like most servers in the industry, I worked for “tips.” I never truly understood what it was like for people to live off tips until I started the job and it changed my perspective completely. The history of the “tip” goes way back but some believe it came over to America from 17th century England taverns where customers would slip money to a waiter for faster service or “To Insure Promptitude” better known as a “t.i.p.” Well that money is what my life depended on…or at least “I” thought it did…
Bartending…looking back now it seems like something from another lifetime, as if someone else was playing my part but it was no play, I had spent a fifth of my life doing it. That part of my puzzle has been put together already…and it wasn’t easy. I honestly liked the hustle, the challenge, the rush, and I liked serving people…I even liked the sounds of the room, the loud white noise of random conversations, the busy ticket-time talk coming from the kitchen and even the occasional over excited customer I had to control from time to time. When it was busy it was hard work but it also had its rewards. I was constantly moving around on busy shifts sometimes feeling like I never had a free second. Some days I had it down to a science to the point I was prepared for anything and then sometimes you just get so busy that you really have to be focused at every single second. You have to constantly be thinking of the customer and your next move. No matter how someone treats you or what happens that is out of your control, you have to learn to be professional and always be respectful. My boss taught me this extremely well from day one…He was a business owner and a family man, but he was a family man first and that’s why I loved to work for him. People were important to him and he treated everyone as if they were a part of his family. When he pushed you, he was pushing you to not only work hard for his business, but I believe he was teaching “patience,” and encouraging you to work hard for other people so that their experience would be easy…
I still remember the week I was having, I had some things I was battling with and basically I owed some people some money that I needed to pay back sooner than later. I remember working my shifts that week and just hoping bigger crowds would come in and somehow I could make a little bit of money to start the payback and get me out of the “red.” Well the shift I was hoping for showed up and it got busy…but there was this moment somewhere in the middle of it, an unexpected lull…and during this time I was probably wiping the sweat off my face, washing glasses, stocking, taking out the trash, just doing whatever was needed to be ready for the next rush. But I remember picking up receipts and change that had been left behind for a tip and putting them quickly in my tip jar. I remember this one receipt that had a large amount on its charge but whoever had signed for it left zero for the “t.i.p.” …and I was confused… So I thought maybe I had done something wrong? Or had I thrown some cash away on accident that had been left behind? (Believe it or not that happened sometimes!) Or maybe it was still somewhere on the bar top or fell on the floor…so I quickly search and discover the answer.
I found what looked like a tiny picture frame…it was about the size of the end of your thumb…and it had a tiny speck in the middle of it. It turned out to be a laminated square piece of paper with the center cut out and in the center was this tiny object. I had no idea what it was so I turned it over and saw that the word “FAITH” was written on the top. I quickly realized it was a mustard seed inside the square!…A mustard seed…these seeds measure about 1 millimeter in size. This was the 1 millimeter that would become a small but paramount piece to my puzzle. I thought instantly of the story of the mustard seed and the verses about faith that I had learned so much about in church when I was younger. It felt like time had just slowed down and I remember I was in a daze, staring down at this tiny seed in my hand. Initially I was a little upset but I was almost starting to laugh because it’s funny how you can get caught up in your daily life choices and try to fix every problem on your own. I felt like I was constantly trying to fix everything in my life. There was just too much “I” in every decision being made in my life. I looked up to see who may have left it but nobody was around…Whoever it was that showed me this random act of kindness and love may have seen my struggle, maybe they knew me I thought…or maybe they didn’t. Either way, their act of faith helped me realize I had been leaving God out of my puzzle for a long time. Trying to get things done on my own strength wasn’t doing anything but adding unnecessary pieces to my puzzle that didn’t fit…maybe some faith is what I needed to help put it together. And before I knew it I remember someone yelling out at me for service so I turned around, dropped it in my tip jar, and got back to creating that easy experience…
So what does your life puzzle look like? Mine had way too many unnecessary pieces… Do you ever feel like it just keeps getting bigger and keeps getting harder to put together? What are we putting our faith in? At the end of the day, when we lay our heads down at night, what does our daily receipt look like? Do you feel like your daily “t.i.p.” line is what your life depends on? Is it filled with worries of bills? Maybe unhealthy relationships? Singleness? Credit card debt? Disbelief? Your job? Politics? Anger? Fear? Addictions?…And are you trying to do everything on your own? What if we can learn to trust God with everything we do and put our faith in Him? And what if it’s just in 1 millimeter doses?…Can we love other people by sharing this faith? Can “faith” make anything possible? Yes…and I have proof.
“When the roll is called up yonder, I hope you see me there. It’s in the water, it’s where you came from. It’s in the water, it’s in the story, of where you came from. Just drink the water where you came from, where you came from.“
The Kings of Leon are a popular band from Tennessee made up of all family members: the brothers Caleb, Nathan, and Jared Followill and their cousin Matthew Followill. The brothers grew up sons of a preacher, toured the world with their music, struggled with a rollercoaster life at times, and also referenced their faith journey many times in song lyrics. Since I only know what I have read in stories about them I can’t speak on what is true or false in their lives. In my opinion, I think they are still searching, wanting the better life that God wants to show us and I could just always relate to that…because unfortunately I would doubt my faith at times…and when I heard this song “Radioactive” it just meant something to me. In an interview about this song they say, “We started the lyrics from an old gospel song we had heard as kids…and with our dad as a preacher we spent a lot of times in the church, even weeks at a time, revivals, evangelizing… so it has a spiritual feel to it… it’s about where we all came from… and if you’re able to come back to that it’s just a special feeling.” I wanted to use this song because wherever you are right now in your life you may have doubts…hey even the disciples had doubts…but you need to know that we are all God’s creation…Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (He is “where we came from.”) He doesn’t just care only for the “good” people, but He loves us all and suffered for everyone.
I went home that night after my bar shift and looked up the verse again about the mustard seed faith. I decided I would keep it…so I put it in my wallet where I would see it every time I opened it to remind me of God’s promise and to not let my life depend on money. It stayed there for years…BUT, this past year, for the first time, I decided to take it out of my wallet and mail it overseas to one of my best friends serving in the U.S. Army. I asked him just recently if he would allow me to mention his story about this and this is what he said, “Absolutely…I got it while I was in Iraq. I had no prior knowledge of it. Never knew any of the symbolism of it…I just knew my friend sent it to me with the best of luck. When times get tough you find the strangest things to lean on…and it worked for me. It really helped out a lot in some really weird times…and I appreciate it.”
He promises he still keeps the 1 millimeter in his front pocket…
(Please stop for a minute and pray for his safety… I pray for guidance, clarity, protection, and faith in his service. Thank you brother for all that you do.)
Gratuity has been defined as something given without claim or obligation. To this day I still have no idea who left that mustard seed on the bar. They could have at the last minute had some doubts, they could have thought I would just throw it away, but they took that step in faith not knowing what would happen but “trusting” that something powerful could happen…and it did. I am “trusting” God with this blog. I had some doubts before I started…I had felt a calling for it but I don’t know everything I will write about…I don’t have any type of stats tracker…I can’t tell if you are reading this or if a friend is reading this, truth is I honestly just don’t know…and that’s the way Ten Days In Love will remain…this is about real love and showing people His eternal love.
The anonymous person that day didn’t leave money…money is what I thought I needed to fix my problems. They left “FAITH.” I wondered if I was selfish for hanging on to that seed for so many years…was it me being selfish? Maybe…Or was it God saying I am not through teaching you the power of My promise and overcoming the impossible. Through the tiny mustard seed, God is showing us the unlimited level of His love and compassion that He has for those who have faith in Him. The mustard seed itself is tiny, but in the right environment it will grow into a much larger tree. This signifies the tiniest amount of faith from God can have a powerful influence on so many people, even in all parts of the world. Putting puzzles together by yourself always takes longer and sometimes you want to give up. I’m learning to have complete “faith” and let God help me put my life together piece by piece… I challenge you for the next ten days to go to a restaurant or bar, and no matter what kind of service you receive or how bad you may think your food was, I want you to just forget about all of that…I want you to accept this bold “faith” challenge of leaving a real “t.i.p.” (Because people are important.) And this can be whatever you make it. Maybe it’s simply money…maybe it’s 100% gratuity, or maybe simply adding a kind encouraging note. You could even leave some money and write down a reference to this blog post by writing “1 Millimeter – Tendaysinlove.com.” Maybe get creative and recreate the 1 millimeter tip I received. Sound crazy? Or exciting? Just have a tiny bit of faith…because your faith can influence others and grow into something much larger. It happened to me…it happened to my friend overseas…and it can be “Radioactive” not in the dangerous sense of the word but powerful…powerful enough to change someone’s life. Tomorrow is certainly not promised but His eternal love is forever promised if you put your faith in Him. Love others because God loves you…He’s where we came from. He wants you to completely trust Him…you show Him just 1 millimeter of faith…and He’ll show you something the size of a mountain = LOVE. Nothing is impossible…
20 For truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
Watch, listen, and share what happens when you decide to live the next 10 days in love.
(Feature post photo by Serge Esteve)
(Listen below to Radioactive by Kings Of Leon)
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