It’s easy to be put on a pedestal. When you are working in a foreign country, sometimes people think you must have superpowers. The locals sure seem to think you do with all your access to supplies, funds, networking. It is easy to be celebrated. You walk around with more clout and influence than you could have ever had in your home country and people expect great things of you.
It is a double edged sword.
As high up as your pedestal might be built, without you even wanting to be put there, it becomes that much more painful when you fall off.
People’s expectations of you become something you can’t keep up with. You fail. And you hurt people. Without even meaning to.
Today is one of those days when I disappointed someone. Several people actually. I probably disappoint and offend a lot of people. I know I do. I disappoint myself as well.
How do we, as people who have purpose in life continue on when we are faced with discouragement and disappointment both from other people and from ourselves?
Several years ago when I was going through a very tough time that ultimately led up to my divorce two years ago, I got on the phone with my mom. I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel and just give up. I didn’t feel qualified, capable, in the right frame of mind, or like I had the strength to continue. I was shunned by my community and I felt like every day I walked around with my eyes to the ground, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone I knew because of my own pain and shame.
There were so many people at the time who were dependent on me. For their livelihoods, for their children’s education, simply to eat every day. They needed me to do my job so that they could do theirs.
I talked to my mom that day and she told me what she tells me. What she continues to tell me. She told me to “do the good that I see in front of me today”. She told me to not focus on the failures, the negativity, the pressure, the loneliness, the discouragement, but to think of what I can do TODAY for good. I internalized her advice and it has become a compass for my life. In spite of my failures, I am still capable of contributing.
I woke up this morning with some serious discouragement. It made me want to quit. It made me want to stop trying. But today I choose, again and again, to continue doing the GOOD that needs to be done around me. And as I fail, (which I will) I will try to learn. I will try not to make the same mistakes over and over.
But to quit: That would a great tragedy. I am called to GOOD. and I will keep on in spite of a wounded spirit. In spite of the fact that I have wounded others. I know, as I have seen so far, that seeds of good do not take long to sprout. And they grow fast.
Me and mom.