I recently completed a stint working at a bakery. I learned two invaluable lessons during my brief tenure as a baker: the #20 ice cream scoop makes the perfect size cookies and you don’t have to justify your decisions to anyone.
The owner informed me, my first day on the job, that she was selling the bakery to pursue a career as a dental hygienist. She explained how a new job would allow her to spend more time with her daughter (and afford her countless hours to volunteer in the community!). I tried to listen but I was too busy deciphering her recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It was scribbled on a piece of scrap paper. The ink had worn off in places. Some of the measurements were metric and others standard. There was no oven temperature or baking time.
“How long do the cookies bake?”
”I just watch them. You’ll get the hang of it.”
One morning I had just finished putting the raspberry mousse cups in the case when a college student wearing a University of Wyoming sweatshirt flew through the door, his long brown hair blowing behind him. He was clearly a regular. “I’ll take a raspberry mousse cup, a lemon cake pop, a cotton candy whoopie pie, and one of those sugar cookies shaped like a pot of gold.” After him came a man who’d heard the local gossip: the bakery owner was moving on. But how, he wanted to know, would Laramie survive without her? What would happen to the poor souls who’d no longer have access to her almond croissants and heart-shaped meringues? Where else would the man be able to order a cup of coffee and refuse to pay tax on it, always stiffing her those few extra cents?
“I want to go to school to become a pediatric dental hygienist,” she explained. The nervous tone in her voice and addition of pediatric made her sound like a guilty woman on trial.
“I can’t believe you’re quitting,” moaned a woman as she tucked her credit card back inside her purse. She had just picked up a box of assorted baked goods for a potluck.
“I want to go to school to become a pediatric dental hygienist and possibly have another child.” There it was: her final bargain. She’d get to leave a job that no longer satisfied her so long as she dedicated the rest of her life to cleaning children’s teeth and had another baby.
I suddenly found myself reliving all the conversations I had before leaving ministry. I didn’t have the courage to tell people the truth, that I no longer wanted to be a pastor. Instead, I told them there wasn’t an opening in Laramie. Which, conveniently, was true. I also told them Micah and I were possibly thinking of having a child. Which was also true, but neither one had anything to do with my desire to leave ministry. And, quite frankly, none of it was anyone’s business.
I’m saddened the bakery owner and I didn’t believe our desire for change was reason enough to start over. I’m saddened we believed the world would support us only if we promised to devote our newfound freedom to having babies. And I’m troubled by all the bargains we make in the name of having what we want. Every decision we make in hopes of satisfying someone else is a recipe for disaster.
May your choices be yours and yours alone.