I got suckered in. I was at a jewelry party one afternoon about six years ago and I got suckered right on in. Not just into buying a $79 dollar necklace. That's one thing. Deciding I was going to sell it was another. But I did. I became a Lia Sophia home sales consultant that day. And for about 8 months or so, I sold jewelry. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I loved having something I could do on my own and be proud of. Something besides be "Mom." (I wear the Mom title humbly and appreciative now, but that's a whole other story.) However. I'm not a real assertive, pushy sell what I'm selling to you kind of person. I actually really hate trying to convince people of anything, unless it's the word of God. But that just comes easily, because, well it's truth. And it's life.
But I remember trying to convince and tug at people's heartstrings that year, to puh-lease host a party for my new business. And I must have made a profound impact with all my begging because my cousin agreed to have a party and went on to invite a slew of co-workers, friends and family members to her home and she had quite a few of them that reluctantly agreed to show up. But closer and closer to the party, they started cancelling and bombing out on her. I remember her email so clearly because I could relate. She said "This feeling sucks. I'm never doing this again. I don't know how you can do this over and over." As a sales rep it didn't bother me so much.
I wasn't really all that interested in making millions. But as a human, I knew the feeling. The feeling of anticipation followed by a feeling of let down and finally rejection or abandonment.
It's a feeling most of us are somewhat accustomed to. But particularly if you have ever led or planned or put significant time, thought or passion into anything. Ever plan a birthday party for your kids and only three kids show up? Ever put your heart and soul into a message for your bible study or home group and only 5 show up, when last month it was 20? Ever watch your blog or band or ministry peak and then little by little people start trailing off to find something flashier?
This is a little awkward for me to write because I've grown up in the church (in the ministry) and people that know me might read this. I never want it to sound like I'm whining, because it couldn't be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite. I'm refreshed. Because I've experienced healing and thankfully some wisdom in this area. And it's been on my heart to write this to you for awhile. I want you to know that if you have become familiar with this sort of disappointment and it became a game changer for you, I hope that what I'm writing will open your weary eyes just a little to see a new perspective.
Whether you are a parent or a preacher, an actor or a small group leader, a business owner or a school teacher, a musician or a writer...you probably know this feeling. If you've pursued any sort of passion or served in any capacity, this is for you. This is for all the people that are walking this particular path today, because I've been there. I know that feeling of disillusion when it seems like people aren't with you and I know it's intimidating. I've planned parties and youth services and women's events. I know what it is like to feel like people don't care about all the hard work you put in. I know what it is like to watch crowds of hundreds trickle down to crowds of tens over the years. I know what it's like to promote or advocate something you are so incredibly passionate about and people just don't get it. I know what it's like to feel like a cast away. A has been. I've seen it all.
I remember going to a small home make-up party a friend was having a few years back. She planned and prepped and of course, had all her carefully planned snacks set out. And shortly before her party, my mom called me up and said "Do you want to go to her party?" I said, "Sure." And off we went. I'm glad we did, because when we got there, we realized that we were the only ones that showed up.
As I write this, I can think of a dozen examples either from my own life or peering from the sidelines and watching other people as they abandon their passion, something they truly loved doing or even what God had told them to do because this very thing has happened to them.
People stopped showing up.
Not everyone is empathetic, but I think that is why I am such a cheerleader for other people. I hate to see people feel unsupported or let down. I hate it. So as much as I can with four kids. I try to show up. And I don't just want to make an appearance. If I go, I want to really be there. Ya know?
A few years ago, I was talking to the Lord about this. I don't remember the exact details, but I had probably planned an event of some kind with a probable small turn out and I distinctly remember hearing these words, Do it for the ones that show up. That pretty much rocked my world. From that day on, I have been able to plan and prep and write and speak with little disappointment to who wouldn't be there, but more prayer, thought and time spent into who would be there.
Do it for the ones that show up.
We can spend all year long feeling let down, wondering why people don't care or aren't there, listening to rumors, or feeling forgotten. But this was never even supposed to have been about us anyways, right? Why are we so worried about the people that are not there any longer? Or maybe were never really there to begin with? Why do we question and muse and plan our lives around the people that don't show up?
What about the people that do still show up?
What about the people that do still need us?
What about the people that do still believe in us?
Do those people matter?
Not that we can't genuinely love people that aren't around, because I believe we can. We needn't cop an attitude with the no-showers and naysayers. And there is certainly an aspect of reaching outside the box or beyond the four walls. That's a whole other post. But the point is, there are still people showing up. What about them?
I'm a mom of four. My kids are 13, 11, almost 8 and 2. The summers are loud and slightly chaotic. During the school year, however, it gets quieter during the day. My two girls who are my middle children, go off to private school all day. My teenage son comes home around 11 in the morning from 'brick and mortar' public school and finishes off his school day with home school. Either way, it's much quieter in my house. And either way my kids are getting older.
During my days, not nearly as many people need me for things. Even with the teenager home doing his home school, there is still an awkward hush in my home. But that doesn't mean I get to sleep in. Unfortunately, I can't sit on my butt all day. I just can't stop
"Mom-ing' because most of my kids are either off at school or being quiet upstairs. You know why? Because I still have a toddler at home.
I think any mom with a single kid at home can tell you they are very needy. Almost more so, than if there were two or more children keeping each other busy. Alone, he may not be as loud and rambunctious as having the four kids here. But he still needs me to be Mom all the live long day --and sometimes well into the night. My crowd may have out grown specific needs from me. It may just be one on one during the day. But guess what? That one single tiny cute child still shows up every single day. He points to the door and says "Side" (Outside) or to the window and say "Cai" (Car) or to the kichen and says "Mmmmm Mmmmm Ahh Ahh Eat" (I think you can figure that one out.)
It's just me and you kid, and because it's just me and you, I HAVE to show up.
I'm there. Showing up. Just for you.
He still needs me just as much, if not more during the days, in particular while the multitudes are gone away and not entertaining him.
Do you see my point? That one tiny child all by himself still needs me to show up and do what I am here to do. It may be lest hustle and bustle and more slow and steady, but I still have to do it. And guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.
If I could tell any one person on this planet that is doing anything in the way of passion, talent, calling, serving or obedience to the Lord-- I want to say this. Please hear me. What you are doing matters. It sounds corny or cliche'. You may have no idea the impact you are making on that one hyperactive child in your kids church or the disgruntled teenager in your youth group that never seems to pay attention, And you most likely have no idea how much you are helping out those parents. You may wonder about that small quiet lady in your bible study that keeps to herself but is always sitting there in the back of the room. You may look around to your audience and see 10 where you used to see 50 or see 100 when you used to see 500. You may even wonder if anyone other than that one girl even reads your blog anymore. But for that one kid or teenager, or for those parents who cried themselves to sleep, for that one quiet lady that shows up faithfully at your bible study every time, or for the noticeably smaller congregation or readership or crowd...for the ones that are still there. Do it for them.
Do it for the ones that show up. And take it seriously.
You may never verbally hear how amazing you are for doing what you do.
You have to be okay with that.
Just do it for the ones that show up.
I wish I could tell all my kids teachers and coaches and leaders over the years all the details of our lives. I wish I could share the struggles and hardships and tears and meltdowns. I wish I could always every day tell them how much they are needed to help guide and instruct and mold our kids. Of course the major responsibility lies in the home. But, it actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of how important my kids are to me and how quickly attached they become to the adults in their lives.
I've seen their confused sad faces when it's time to move on for one reason or another. They depend on people to care about them. They think the adults in their lives are committed to them and I hope they are, but it hasn't always been the case. And my heart is invested in my kids. And whether you realize it know it or not, their heart is invested in you. I see it every day.
Do it for the ones that show up.
What I'm saying is, every single response you make to influence the life of a single person, big or little....it matters. So do what you do, not half-heartedly because of the ones that are no-shows. But do what you do, for the ones that have always been there and will probably be there for awhile longer.
Because they still need you.
They need your help.
They need to know you care.
They depend on you.
They learn from you.
They look up to you.
They believe in you.
And maybe sometimes they talk about you. Or forget to thank you. Or misunderstand you.
But they are people. And people make mistakes. And trust me. It's okay to not worry about what everyone else does or says or doesn't do. It's okay to show up anyways. It's our job to be obedient to what we are instructed to do in this life. And trust me, as I started applying this to my own life, the Holy Spirit has given me such an incredible peace and comfort in place of fear or disappointment. His presence has rested on me and in our home in midst of the chaos, sadness and very temporary feelings of abandonment. I don't look to my left or right any longer when I do what I am supposed to do. At least not for any significant amount of time. I don't look to see who is not there, but I look to see who is. And I see exceptional people. And it's possible that if even one of them gains any encouragement from my being there, I am there for them.
Do it for the ones that show up.