When you get what you want…

While mommy and daddy are on a conference call…

There was a time when I was certain that if I could only get to where I am today I would be done with the struggle, and it would be easy. There is that place that we all want to get to, and in our fantasies that place is where life becomes easy. We don’t have to struggle any more to figure things out. We are doing what we love so we don’t have to search for motivation, and self discipline comes so easily because it lines up with our passion. It won’t feel like work when it’s something we love.

The truth is a whole lot more messy and complicated than that, of course. Life constantly throws new challenges at us. We work and claw and scrape to get to the top of the hill, only to find that it’s just a foothill, the first step in a mountain range and we have to scale that too.

All that to say, life is hard. Anything worth doing is hard work. As Thomas Edison said, “Most people miss opportunities because they come dressed in overalls and look like work.”

Those people making it look easy, those people who seem to have everything fall in their lap, most of the time they worked their buts off for it, you just didn’t see it. And when they got to the top of the first hill, they just kept going.

It’s because I know I am prone to thinking that when I reach X things will be different that I wrote this post back here. It’s because I fight this mindset of acting as though this part of my life is a dress rehearsal and when the real thing starts it will be easy after that that. I am trying to tell the story of my journey here with all the bumps and rough spots included.

There was a time that I was sure that if I could just do something, to help kids, to make a difference, that’s all I would need and everything would fall into place. The truth is, if I am not disciplined in doing my duty in the things right in front of me, I will never be able to do the work required to make the thing I want to do, the thing I am passionate about, happen. And once I get started on that, it’s discipline, much more than passion, because on a sleep deprived morning after an all night wrestleathon with a nursing 8 month old I don’t really feel passionate about anything, it’s some sort of work ethic that keeps me crossing things off of my to do list.

They are forced to fend for themselves.

I’m not just talking about The Charis Project either. That work is not the first time I believed I could get it all “right”. I tried that my first year of high school, then university, then traveling… When I got married I was again going to change, start anew, get everything “right” and do it the way, I wrote the story in my head, it “ought to be done”. Well, eventually passion for being the perfect wife wore off a little, and I needed something else to motivate me to clean up at the end of the day and figure out what to make for dinner. Where I lacked discipline, fickle passion could not make up for it, and my natural laziness and inertia asserted sway.

When I had a baby I would change again in order get it “right”. But it wasn’t passionate love for my child that got me up in the middle of the night, not the way I imagined it. It was the weight, the responsibility and the realization that if I didn’t get up and take care of this child, no one would. This was my job, the first job I was trusted with that really mattered.

I worked hard to get it “right” when we started homeschooling. In a way we did, depending on what you consider right. But again, if I don’t teach this kid to read, since I’ve chosen not to send him to school, how will he learn? His education is my responsibility. I signed a legal contract and everything committing to a certain number of hours and days per year. This is my job, and it mattered. Again, where passion failed, and enthusiasm waned, discipline and a sense of duty is what carried us through, day after day, tearful math lesson after tearful math lesson, until the tears finally stopped and we were enjoying ourselves.

And now, orphaned kids in Thailand, victims of war, poverty and abuse, but still so full of life and promise. I don’t think I told you about how we didn’t think we were going to be able to take care of them near the beginning. There wasn’t enough food, there was crisis. I called every. single. organization I could find! I called Compassion. I called World Vision. I called organizations that I had never even heard of before who were working in Thailand. Every single call I got the same response. “We would love to help, but we don’t have any programs in that area, and we don’t have room for that many kids here.”

Just as clearly as that first night, with my first baby, came the feeling, “If I don’t help these kids, no one is going to.” This is my job, it was given to me. I honestly didn’t think it could be done, but I had to try. Of course you know the rest of the story. Now I’m an officer of a non-profit corporation and we are taking care of these kids and working towards taking care of more. But as the crisis passes, and the past 2 years were a crisis for those kids, the work remains, and it’s discipline, what little I have, that settles me in to see it through for the long haul. I have responsibilities. Somehow, I have to balance them all, but my idea of “right” and what really needs to be done may not be the same.

I’ve had some interesting responses to that last post. One person suggested that I should stop, that it was my pride that keeps me doing something I maybe shouldn’t do and neglecting my own kids. For the record, my kids are not neglected. I estimate they have way more positive interaction with their parents than most kids do. But my heart, of course, is to do more. I see what other moms do, things I had time for once, the non-essentials, and I miss that. But I don’t believe they are suffering because their mom and dad are writing a story together of our family, who we are and what we do, that involves loving those no one else loves, and making things happen that looked impossible a year ago. It doesn’t help anyone to cater to the lowest common denominator. Rather we expect they will rise to meet the challenge, and so far they have, admirably.

See how neglected they are? Poor hobos on the front lawn.

Perhaps it is pride that keeps me going, pride in a job well done, pride in that fact that I am the kind of person who will not abandon someone in need if it’s in my power to help them. Just like mothers have pride in how they mother, the parts they get right. I am proud of the parts I’ve gotten right. I am proud of what my hard work has accomplished. I’m really proud that the last two years of my life have been spent the way they have been. I’m not sure this is a negative thing though, as was implied.

And those of you who gave advice, and commiseration, thank-you. There are probably things I can shift still, once I step back for a minute. There are things I can let go.

My problem I think is that I kept waiting for things so calm down again so I can catch up. I realized this week that this level is the new normal, and I have to shift to figure out how to do what needs doing at this level. That helped. I stopped waiting for a breather and got to work. I don’t even know if that made sense, but we had two absolutely peaceful productive days at the end of last week.

Yes it was craziness to commit to writing 40 posts in about as many days for Lent, but that’s actually more for my kids than anything else. I’m just sharing our conversations with you.

But I want you all to know this blog isn’t going to make the cut list anytime soon. You all know I usually barely ever get here to post anyway. Once or twice a week if we’re lucky. But you guys, you are the ones who carried me through the last two years. And not just with emotional support. You are the ones who turned things around and gave and spread the word and made it so that enough people knew about those kids that we could give them a fighting chance. Long before a lot of the people I knew in real life took what we were trying to do seriously you guys came to the rescue. You sponsored kids. You donated money for bunk beds, shoes, even a truck. I have your names memorized, and your email addresses. I love it when you like us on facebook so I have a face to go with the name.. I know who you are when your donations pop up in the paypal account. I wish I could meet everyone of you in person and hug you and cry and say thank you for the way you cared, and the way you came through when no one else did and made this amazing thing happen.

Half of our entire budget last year came from people who found us through the internet, through this blog. 

I’m just a pessimist who had no choice but to try anyway. You guys are the ones who gave me hope. you are the reason I still have this job today.

And that’s only one of the reasons I love you. I’m not going anywhere. But I will be glad when lent is over. 🙂

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