Burnt Bagels

“Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky like shooting stars?

I could really use a wish right now, wish right now, wish right now

Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky like shooting stars?

I could really use a wish right now, wish right now, wish right now…”


This morning I burnt my bagel. I know it seems like such trivial moment in my day, but I was frustrated as the smell of sulfur surrounded my senses. I stepped away for only a moment and I ruined it. And now, I was going to throw away food. I hate wasting anything when so many people in the world go without. But I guess that is how my luck is running these days; if I step away for a moment, I’m gonna get burned. (“I could really use a wish right now, wish right now, wish right now…”)

Business is still slow. Welcome to the economy! Leads are like an oasis in the desert; far and few between. I believe it will come in time and things will pick up. It has to. I have worked too hard and too long to let it fail now. But as I was quickly packing up my equipment in the middle of a rain storm last week (third rain out in the last four events), I could feel the perseverance and the hope drain out of my body.

I refused to waste it, so I took the bagel to the sink and started to slowly scrape off the charred layer of yeast on top.  I carefully and delicately rubbed the knife across the burnt bread. Blackened crumbs bounced along the bottom of the sink. They sounded like little chunks of hail against the window pane in a storm and as I worked patiently, I knew that my breakfast could be salvaged.

When I got home from the rained out event last week, I unpacked each piece of equipment in my living room and set about the task of drying off everything before properly packing it away. As I sat in my living room doing my work, I asked myself, “How did I get here?” I used to be able to succeed so easily at everything I undertook. Why was this business so hard to get off the ground? At some point, it can’t solely be the economy anymore, can it?

A feeling of failure crept up my spine and took over my thoughts. I don’t want to hear the “I told you so’s” from my family and friends who doubted my idea of starting a business. I can see it in their eyes. I can even hear it in their voices. Failure is not an option. But as I thought about that for a moment, I had to ask, “Was failure never an option for me or because, I didn’t want to give others the opportunity to point out my failure? Who was I trying to please?”

Bill Cosby once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” I spent twenty-three years working in the nonprofit industry. My entire career has always been about helping others make their lives better and trying to give them the tools to succeed. I have also spent a better part of my life trying to claim some sort of recognition (from important people in my life) for my successes. But with each goal I accomplished, that recognition never came. At some point in time, maybe now, I have to realize that that recognition will never come.

It took a few extra minutes, but the bagel was saved. Underneath the layers of crust, sulfur and soot was a warm, toasted edible piece of bread. It was rough around the edges. Blackened dark spots reminded me of the mistake I had made in my first attempt to cook the bagel but as I added some butter and jam, the sweetness of the sugar and the moisture of the oleo restored the flavor to my breakfast.

Those who know me well know that I am not a patient person. But the answer to the question of “how I got here?” is simple; God brought me to this crossroad in my life. When I looked around to see what or whom I could rely on when the going got rough, there was only one person standing next to me, no; carrying me. And it was the hand of God.

Like my morning bagel, my old career had burnt me out. In retrospect, some of my old relationships had burnt me out as well.  Since then, God has been slowly, carefully and delicately rubbing away the burnt pieces.  He is molding me for a new path to undertake. It may be the one I am on or it may be a completely new one that he has chosen for me. Time will tell. I just have to be patient.

I know the path will not be easy. There will be trials and tribulations. There will be reminders of being burnt out. There will be reminders of people who burned me. There will be reminders of the rocky ravine I am walking through right now. And even though I will never forget those trespasses, I do have to forgive.

It’s time to stop trying to please everyone. God is standing next to me and telling me to have faith, patience and trust in the road he is leading me down. And if I do, he will lead me to a place in my life that will far exceed anything I could ever imagine in my wildest dreams. And with a promise of a future like that, you can keep your airplanes and your wishes…



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12 Responses to Burnt Bagels

  1. Jessi says:

    I certainly can relate Doug. We are at the same place. Right now I do feel like a burnt bagel. God is there with us too and all we can do sometimes is stand on those promises and “be patient”. I think that’s the greatest of lessons for folks like us.

  2. Lee Zabel says:

    This piece is so moving. Bravo.

  3. Wendy says:

    Think it’s one of your finest Doug!
    Love ya!!

  4. Chris says:

    Amazing! So many of us have experienced exactly the same thing~but you were able to put the words to the feelings and give the rest of us hope when we too, are feeling despair. Excellent! xoxo

  5. Caleb says:

    Great opening line! “This morning I burnt my bagel.” Good read, thanks.

  6. Sarah says:

    I really enjoyed reading that Doug. It was very inspiring. 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    I love it! It reminds me of Galatians 1:10 which says “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or God? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ”. and Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men”. For we can not serve two masters! (Mat 6:24). And I love that we are all presented with our burnt bagel at some point throughout the day and we have a choice at that moment to choose life (positive outlook and trusting God) or death (negaitivity and a downward spiral of pessimism) so “choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him” (Deut 30:19-20). Which is what you did in your bagel moment so you can be assured that He will work all things together for good for you! (Roman 8:28). Have a great day 🙂

  8. Bob says:

    One of your best! Loved it, so did my Sister

  9. Marie says:

    Great piece. We are all trying to get through this thing called “Life”, and with faith in God, He will see us through. When peeling away the layers of the onion and face what is real, I believe we heal. You write so well, I have faith in you that you will find your bliss. I also feel that it took a lot of courage to leave the familiar and take the risk of following your road to inner peace.God Bless you and your family. Not only do you have God on your side, but you have the love of a wonderful wife and kids.

  10. Bonnie K. says:

    Doug, really enjoyed that! Made me laugh and reflect at the same time. Thanks! Hope you are well.

  11. Jenn B says:

    Thank you!! GREAT story!!!

  12. Paul P says:

    Great read bud….definately can relate….

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