The Lie of Giving 110%

We cannot let how we feel determine how hard we work.

Famed basketball coach John Wooden always taught his players that there’s no such thing as 110%. If they didn’t give 100% in practice, it could never be gotten back later with some superhuman effort.

Therefore, a decision to do less than you can do is an irrevocable decision to settle for less than your best. You can’t get it back.

This post is day 14 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

How to Keep Disappointment from Derailing Our Dreams

Disappointment comes to us all. We believe in someone and are betrayed. Or we apply for a job and it doesn’t happen. Someone makes a promise and they break that promise. We try to achieve something – we fall short. It happens to everyone.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose birthday and legacy we celebrate today said,

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.

But how can we do this?

Who Do You Feed?

I think that we can prevent bitterness the same way we prevent scrub oaks from growing in the flower bed: we pull them up when they are small.

However, we shouldn’t continue to revisit the hurt and focus and dwell on it. Instead, we must learn to redirect, forgive, and move on.

Perhaps the best explanation can be found in an old tale from the Cherokee Indians, the Legend of Two Wolves, that goes like this,

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

We cannot help being disappointed. Disappointment is a normal part of life. Inevitably it comes to us all.

Decide What To Do with Your Disappointment

However, when we’re disappointed, we can help what we do with it. Will we feed our anger? Do we feed our self-pity? Shall we feed our resentment?

If we do, bitterness will grow. It has too.

If you live long enough, you’ll meet someone consumed by their anger, self-pity, and resentment. They have fed all their disappointment to the angry wolf. He crowds out the good.

But if you live long enough, you’ll also meet someone who should be angry but is not. Who should pity herself, but does not. Who should be resentful but is full of kindness and joy and peace.

You can’t pick your pain. However, you can pick your wolf.

Today, as you pursue excellence, think of your most recent pain. Are you processing that pain in healthy ways? Or are you revisiting it to feed your anger, self-pity, and resentment?

The wolf you choose to feed makes all the difference in who you become.

This post is day thirteen of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

To the Woods

As soon as we got home, we threw our shoes into our closets, put on our cutoff bluejean shorts and halter tops and ran out the back door, the screen door slamming behind us. We were headed for the ditch.

The ditch in the woods about a half a mile behind our house was an incredible place that changed with the seasons. Dad dug it to drain off a field as he put in a bright silver irrigation system that gleamed in the hot South Georgia sun.

As we ran through the backfield of wheat or rye or soybeans – whatever was the crop of the moment – we would sometimes stop to roll. We would roll out whole rooms and play in our flattened rye mansions. Perhaps Dad could have thought these were crop circles of the 70’s but he knew better — we were children.

As we got to the edge of the leafy, buzz buzz buzzing woods full of crickets, bugs, and even snakes, we’d all pick up a stick. The stick was to deal with those snakes or to poke at whatever critter or odd thing we found on the path that day.

We made our way through the woods to “the ditch.” We’d hold onto one another as we’d attempt to get near the ditch to squish our toes in the grey clay at the bottom of the ditch.

My Favorite Place

But my favorite place was the opening of the ditch right next to the main road. Sometimes little crawdads would grow there. I never really would hurt or catch them, but I would watch them flitting around the rocks. If I squished my toes there, they’d come near eating whatever goodies I was kicking up with my toe. But they made me afraid because they could pinch!

Whether we were running in the woods, rolling out hay in the fields, or poking at something unrecognizable in the road, our video game was nature. We ran free.

My favorite time of day was sunset which was often when Mom and Dad and my sister and I would “drive the farm” to make sure everything was ok for the night. Every sunset was different. How could one place have so many different colors each night!

What Nature Can Do

I do not tell this story to reminisce or say anything about the modern generation, for my own children played in these ditches too, although not quite as frequently since we live in town.

But as I think about as recently as this fall and a trip Kip and I made to a lovely lake to fish, I realize that nature is a place where my mood often soars

and I remember who I am.

I didn’t really think about it much until I posted this picture to the right on Facebook during that last trip. The next Sunday, my pastor stopped me and said,

“You need to have that look on your face more often.”

Wise Encouragement to Get Into Nature

And I realized that I have fallen victim to Robert Frost’s conundrum when he said,

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

Albert Einstein said,

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

British Statesman John Lubbock said,

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers,the mountain and sea, are excellent school masters and teach some of us more than we could ever learn from books.”

King David says in Psalm 121

“I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My helpl cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

There’s an old John Denver song called Rhymes and Reasons where he sings of

“the music of the mountains and the colours of the rainbow” and “the graceful way of flowers in the wind.”

A Walk in the Woods and the Couch in the Den Can’t Compare

When I get out into nature, I dream again. I breathe. I am reminded of my Maker. And I am restored in ways that just don’t happen sitting on the couch.

I see things. Like this mushroom in a field in Dillard Georgia where I lay on the ground with my camera to shoot up at its beautiful canopy from underneath. It is a truly beautiful moment and memory captured on film. I can still feel the dew on my back as I stood up with grass in my hair and laughter on my lips.

Get Outside

So, this is a reminder to all of us to get out there and inhale fresh air. Take a walk in the woods. Lay on the grass and watch the clouds go by. Inhale the scent of fresh air and feel the breeze. In some cases, it is cold right now, but if we cannot remember the last time we’ve been outside to just enjoy the outdoors, then it has been too long.

You can take the girl out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.

But somehow deep down, I think that the land is a restorative place and more of us need to put down our phones, put on our sunscreen, and look at the sunset, watch the bees dance among the roses, and wiggle our toes in the dirt. It won’t hurt us. It might actually do us a whole lot of good.

Here’s your challenge. Schedule a time outside this week. Even better, schedule an hour. Sit and observe. (And if it cold, bundle up!)

This post is day twelve of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

Recklessly Abandoned to Love

This reckless abandon of showing love to others can feel like you are not showing love to yourself sometimes. Yet it is part of reckless abandon to pour yourself out in love of others when you do not know how to go on. When you are tired. When you can go no more.

“If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are?
That grace can really change our heart
Do I live like Your love is true?”

Live like that by Sidewalk Prophets

Love Costs Something

In times when I am exhausted (like now) I think of King David at the threshing floor where he was stopping to offer a sacrifice after the plague stopped and the owner offered to give him the property and David said

“I will not offer that which costs me nothing”.

And that seems to be what many want to do today. They want to serve others as long as they are not tired. They want to give money as long as they have enough. They want to show up if they have time on their schedule.

STOP!

True sacrificial love can cost us everything!

I am not talking a lack of self- care or namby-pamby martyrdom— I am talking a conscious decision by healthy minded brave adults to give, show up, and do for others when all you want to do is lay on the couch and curl up under a blanket and hibernate for days.

Our Love and Encouragement is Needed

There are certainly times for retreat but not every time and every day. We have children and people who need encouragement. We need a world of brave people willing to be recklessly abandoned to being a pipe full of God’s love to a world that sees too much hurt and pain and wonders who is going to show up.

I cannot do everything and I might not can do much but I can serve my small calling with faith.

I can love kids and parents who wound me and be encouraging to others in my profession even when criticized.

For if we are called, we are equipped. But if we are called, we cannot wait until it is convenient and when we feel like it to show up.

I do not write as anyone who is good or perfect but as one who struggles every single day to show up when all I want to do is give up.

Your Work Matters

I write as one who hopes that this tiny insignificant blog post will remind you that no act of kindness is wasted and that your showing up, giving up, and bucking up MATTERS.

Live your calling, my friends. Be recklessly abandoned to show love to others. Be encouraged that your actions of love Matter.

As for me, I was recklessly loved first so it is a small thing to give the same reckless love to others. And if you knew the truth, you’d realize you are recklessly loved too.

This post is day ten of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.