Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

“Step off the wood, Jesus needs the cross.”

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 9

Every Friday during Lent, we abstain from meat, although if you’re a 16- or 17-year-old boy, the task seems monumental when the thinking is: meat = protein = muscle. Back in the day, mom and Sister Marcella our Catechism teacher taught us to refrain from eating meat on Fridays as an act of penance. So when I heard my son rifling through the fridge this morning trying to find “something substantial to eat, since we can’t have meat.” I thought of sacrifice and how ours is so minute compared to that of Jesus. Then I remembered this story from last year and thought I’d repost it. Enjoy.

Photo by Pixabay on

I worked in a sports bar in DC for years. Managers came and went as they do, hoping to climb the exhausting service industry ladder or better yet, open their own establishment. Like most bosses, some had a lasting impact, others shuffled through so quickly, I barely recall their names. But like most workplaces, life lessons came from teammates, supervisors, customers, and experience.

After working at a non-profit health organization from 9-5, I knew when I arrived at the bar, I had to wipe the day’s slate clean. During the day, I managed various health programs including a smoking cessation project for Hispanic youth. Ironically, I would then schlep over to a bar with a cigarette machine and a cigar bar upstairs. Needless to say, when I swiped into the time clock, I REALLY had to stop thinking about my day’s work, and focus on service.  

As in most jobs, there are always complainers, and I’m no different. Inside this smoky bar where I spent so many hours, there was one manager named Daryl who did not tolerate moaning. When anyone griped about  the minutia – rolling silverware, making a pot of decaf, bussing an extra table, he would always say,

“Step off the wood, Jesus needs the cross”. 

His words sent an instant reminder to quit complaining about first-world problems and be grateful for the work we were doing. It certainly squelched a lot of my own grievances and others. It helped all of us realize a bad day didn’t have to tether us but rather guide us to what makes us happy.

So today, be grateful. Grateful for what you can do, grateful for who you have around you, and especially grateful to Jesus for carrying that cross for us. Even when things are at their worst, nothing compares to His sacrifice. Step off the wood, be thankful, and make every day better than the last.

Please pray for Ukraine.

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