I Give Up


it’s been a while huh? Nearly six months, right? Not much has happened.

No, wait, that’s a lie.

A lot has happened.

After fighting to get up this morning, making my french press, making breakfast, and sometime during the partaking of breakfast, I realized something: I gave up my dream again.

And it’s pretty much the best decision I made. Let me explain.

The last post I wrote was about mid-July. Probably just a few weeks later my store manager told me to apply for a job within the company. A Roaster Operator for the Willy Wonka coffee experience they are building in New York City. I brushed it off. That job couldn’t be for me. I don’t even know how to roast coffee. It would require too much and I am about to really press in with these disciplines that will show God I am serious about being faithful to Him and His calling to the city.

Two weeks later my manager told the store that he would be leaving at the New Year because he just got hired as the supervisor of operations for the Reserve Roastery (Willy Wonka coffee) and he turned to me and asked if I had submitted my application yet for an operator position. He implored me to apply. Fine, but who knows what will happen, and applying doesn’t mean I’ve taken a job.

Three days later I was on the phone with the Roastery Operations Manager. And you know the truly terrible thing? I started getting hopeful, excited, and completely full of dread. By the time my next interview came around, the interview with the Operations Supervisor (my at the time store manager and the one who insisted on my application), I was in a kerfuffle (a word which here means, stressed and excited all at once). I believed I moved to the city to join the theatre world, to act, to bring glory to God by how He took my crazy story to bring me there. Was this job turning my back on God’s plan?

Four weeks from the initial phone interview I was offered the job.

If you were to go back through some of my posts (probably my more melodramatic ones) you’ll see multiple times where God has asked me to trust Him with my dream. Where He has asked me to hand over perceivable common sense for the sake of trusting Him, believing He is the good Father who fulfills His promises. In these moments I am always reminded of a message one of my professors gave, “The Cost of Discipleship”, also consequently, the book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer of the same name. Following Jesus requires sacrifice, and without condition.

Something I find remarkable about the disciples and apostles in the Acts church is their passion for Christ and what His call looks like in their lives. They are not frequently bemoaning that they aren’t accomplishing their dreams. In fact, they just are focused on sharing Christ, of living life to bring Him glory and tell as many people about Him until His return. They have given up whatever ambition or life they had before for the sake of the gospel and they are content in that alone. Much of the historical great people of the church have the same attitude. Now, sure they all have specific desires within that paradigm: Paul wanted to preach to Romans in Rome, Luther wanted to bring the word of God to the common people, Bonhoeffer wanted to see the end of the Nazi regime in His home. I am sure there are countless others who bear a similar story, but the most notable thing is that fueling their desires is a love for Christ and a desire to be obedient whatever that looks like.

“But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22

This is my calling. Obedience, whatever that looks like.

Back to the job.

I have told a few people this already, but I have never gotten a job that I discovered and went out for. To clarify, I have never been hired for any job I found in a posting or did the proper apply, call back a week later, interview, etc. Every job I have gotten had the cards stacked in my favor, the application process was expedited or I was simply given the job. I was “given” my job at the Disney Store (I was recommended by the head honcho). I applied to work at my College’s Cafeteria, was offered a job at the coffee shop instead. I applied for an out of state Starbucks three days before moving, was interviewed and hired the first full day living there, starting work two days later. I was hired at Panera 2 hours after submitting an application. I was rehired at Starbucks after just being around the store enough (I was interviewed a year prior but there weren’t openings). This job at the Roastery feels as though it was given to me. I had an expedited application process, interviewed by the one who recommended me for the job in the first place.

I took the job.

And it was the best decision. I’ve given back my dream to God to hold. I am still working on disciplines. I am practicing piano. I do vocal warm ups, almost daily. I work on monologues a few times a week. I am practicing my Spanish. I mean I have so much free time, why waste it?

This job is one of those jobs I didn’t know I would love and be perfect for. Every day is a puzzle and when we open doors in the fall, I will be able to use my interpersonal (and stage) skills to engage customers, gushing about one of my favorite things: coffee. It’s strange because this time of “giving back” my dream I feel like I have been given another.

Looking back on this post, makes it seem to me that there is still some vanity to work out, I could not possibly compare my struggles of giving up my dream to those who gave their life for the sake of the gospel. There is a cost to following Jesus, all I’ve wanted to say is that I keep discovering how much there is to gain by being obedient and trusting His leading. If I was to hold onto this small view of where He wants to lead me, I would miss out on a lot. It’s terrifying, admitting I don’t have control, but you know what that makes it exciting.

I give up trying to do it all on my own steam.

Perhaps that’s how God does it, one day, when He sees I am ready, He’ll give me that acting gig. And I’ll get to give Him all the credit.


More than a Mustache

“Hey Bro, nice stache”

“Did you see that guys mustache?”

For nearly two years I have been gawked at, lauded, and even revered for my unique facial hair. I had done the mustache for Mustache March (a month to raise awareness for prostate cancer) but it always came off at the beginning of April. Following my College Graduation I just decided to let it grow. I moved to New York City with this Mustache and for many (and sometimes myself) this has become my trademark, my identifier.

Greg is that guy with an awesome mustache.

No more.

I decided to shave for two reasons:
One, I just wanted to shave. I have grown tired of the stache. Tired of the inconveniences and just tired of seeing my face look the same for the past two years.
Two, I moved to this city go act and for the past few months I’ve been trying to land gigs using my mustache as my trademark, but either the hipster mustache is on the outs or its just not working, so in order to extend my marketability I shaved.

Now I would’veshaved a few weeks ago, but I had to have new headshots for my agents before I could do it, because they would need photos to send to potential castings. I didn’t have the money to invest in photos so I was going to wait to save up money, but in an apparent impetuous act of resignation or a sudden surge of gumption I took my own headshots in my backyard with my tripod, DSLR, and using the brick wall of our building as the back drop.

It’s funny how something so surface level can become a part of you, how people associate you with something so much that when you change it, they have to reevaluate how they interact with you. In the past 24 hours I have met with all spectrums of responses from approval, surprise, and even to cries of those who feel let down by me shaving, as if my facial hair aptitude was some sort of beacon of strength for them.

I know I will miss the stache and one day it may come back, but for now people will have to get to know me beyond my lip warmer.

Adventuring, Not in New York

If you look at my URL, the web address to this blog is Adventures in New York, no spaces. I chose that name two years ago because I was going to be spending my summer in New York City and I wanted to share my exploits with those who cared to see, mostly a few in my family who wanted to stay up to date on my life. I posted once. I began blogging, truly, last November. The URL was pertinent then, because I was on this mission, fueled by a belief, to get to New York by the New Year. This did not happen. I’ve discussed much of the emotional turmoil and the spiritual wrestling with this in an earlier post and I will leave that there.

So, why is this important?

Today I started working at Starbucks again. 

You see, when I moved to New York for that Summer God miraculously provided me with a job at Starbucks, at a Starbucks, seven blocks from where I was staying. My adventures in New York were largely funded by and intermingled with the ‘bucks. I worked many hours while I was in the city and I used most of my off time to explore the city. When I moved back to Virginia I tried hard to be transferred to the local store in town to no avail. A year later I tried getting a job there again, this time completing the interview process and only being turned down because of a lack of hours. Opportunity opened up for this summer and I leaped at it. 

Needless to say, I was excited. I love working in the coffee industry. I love how Starbucks treats their employees, and most of all I love free coffee. These would have been sufficient today to make the job worth it, but there was something extra special. You see, because so much of my time in New York was spent inside a Starbucks, I heavily associate the company with the city and my fond memories of being there. Last night I felt like a little kid who couldn’t sleep because he was so excited for school. Then, this morning I woke up an hour early because of how elated I felt. Typing this out I realize how ridiculous this sounds, to be so excited to work in a corporate food service job. 

I miss the city. I miss the lights. I miss Central Park, the Empire State Building and Battery Park. I miss Broadway. I was reminded how much when I watched a portion of the Tony’s last night. (When I lived in the city I watched the Tony’s in Times Square!). I miss the subway. I miss the neighborhood I lived in and the ones I wandered. Right now I am not sure where exactly life will take me, a lot seems uncertain and I don’t know if I will ever live in the city again, I sure hope I do, but in the mean time I will remember fondly the memories and appreciate the little things that remind me of that wonderful adventure. 

Life truly is an awfully big adventure and I am grateful for all that I have experienced and lived through. A part of me will always stay in the city, but for now I forage on towards the next leg of the journey that God has in store.