Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Off the Sidelines And Into The Game

 I remember hearing “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” The words were meant to encourage. To make something positive out of something negative.

We all have words and phrases we tend to live by. Simple, self-evident truths we call on to sum up our position, inspire others or, more likely, we use to teach our children. I recently took a good look at those phrases I often use. 

Done is better than perfect.
No Time Like the Present to Connect
There are a few areas of life, a few tasks to be completed where done is better than perfect. It’s the motto I adopted when I started mowing the lawn. I am, perhaps, the world’s worst lawn care person. I didn’t even know how to start the mower until the summer after Tom died. I try to walk behind the goofy machine in a straight line, but somehow I always tend to leave swaths of uncut grass in the wake. I’m getting a bit better at the job. That isn’t the good news. The good news is that it no longer stresses me to try, because getting the job done is better than fretting over making it perfect.

Err on the side of “being there.” Show up.
My daughter taught me this one. When someone is hurting or in trouble, we often don’t know what to say. Or do. Our fear of interfering or saying the wrong thing keeps us from doing anything at all. We’ve all had those moments where we said or did nothing. Oh, sure, maybe we sent a card. Later. We avoid the awkward face-to-face moments. 

I don’t think I will ever forget the night three friends from church came to my house when Tom died. I looked out the window and they were practically running down the driveway to my front door. (Okay, maybe they weren’t running but it seemed so to me.) They didn’t know what to say or do. Later, one of them told me she was unsure about the decision to come to the house. She thought it might be “intruding.” It was anything but intrusive. I felt cared for and loved. 

And if it had been intruding? Someone would have politely met them at the door and told them it wasn’t a good time to visit. Knowing they came would still have made me feel cared for and loved. Sometimes all we need to do is show up.

One step at a time.
As a professor of teacher education, I used this illustration with students who were ready to quit school. Often they couldn’t see themselves graduate in four years as they planned because of money or other life circumstances. I had walked that road. I married when I was eighteen. It took me seven years to get through my four-year teacher education program. I had two little ones at home during my student teaching. I get it. But I also know that by taking one step at a time, I can reach my goals. 

I would draw a picture of a mountain for my students. “Some people race to the top,” I would say. “Others take the more scenic route.” I would draw two lines. One straight from the bottom to the top of the mountain and the other meandering back and forth before reaching the summit. “But the view is every bit as beautiful no matter how long it takes to get there. Take it one step at a time.”

Just Do It.
As I look at these guidelines I use in life, I see a common theme. In the late 1980’s Nike came out with the slogan “Just Do It.” It has been widely popularized, sometimes used for bad, but mostly for good.

It was an illustration to not sit on the sidelines. To get into the game. To do something. Show up. Climb the mountain. 

If you read my blog, you know where I stand on the issue of racism. It is real and it is detrimental to everyone. Racism is not a political issue. We cannot legislate “respect and care for others.” It is a matter of the heart. 

We are called to action. We can no longer sit on the sidelines. Show up. Take it one step at a time. I have a friend who is reaching out to people who don’t look like him, walking with them in their neighborhood, and inviting them to his.  (#WalktheTalkChallenge) I have another friend who is using his social media presence to make a stand against racism. I am checking in on my friends who are of different race, ethnic backgrounds, and whose first language isn’t English to make sure they’re okay. 

What is in your playbook? What are you doing? 

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