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Joy in the Journey

A woman discovers that prayer changes everything.

A closeup of a woman's hands washing dishes

I never thought I’d end up a dishwasher at a fast-food restaurant. I had a master’s in early childhood education! But I hadn’t gotten a full-time job, and substitute teaching just wasn’t covering the rent.

So there I was on a warm evening one summer, up to my elbows in hot water. My feet ached and I kept thinking about all the debt I had. Suddenly, a phrase my mom liked to say popped into my thoughts: “When there’s nothing else to do, pray.” Wouldn’t hurt to try, I thought.

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God, please give me a new job, teaching kids. That’s what I thought You wanted.

Over the next few days, I made a game of it. Each time I washed a pan lid, I said my prayer. I wound up praying for myself a lot.

One day, as I collected trays to take back to the kitchen, a woman came in, looking downtrodden. I asked her if she was okay. “I’m heading to Florida to take care of my mom,” she said. “It’s a lot of responsibility.”

“I’m sure you’ll do a great job,” I said. I carried the trays to the kitchen, thinking of the woman and the many others who came through each day. Standing there next to the sink, I felt that all those prayers for myself were a bit selfish.

I know what I’ll do. Each time I wash a tray I’ll say a prayer for the person who used it.

Over the coming weeks I actually stopped dreading my job and started enjoying my coworkers. Soon, working at the restaurant didn’t seem so bad.

Eventually I got the job of my prayers—teaching elementary kids. But I was sad to leave the restaurant. Mom was right. When there’s nothing else to do, pray. She could’ve added, “It changes everything.” Even a job washing dishes.

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