The older I get the more I realize that I have very few days left to do great deeds and speak great words. The suffering noble sorrows part is overflowing with opportunity, given my work with foster children. Every day with every new child is another chance to make a difference and leave the world better than I found it.
Recently, I have been keenly challenged by a little three year-old boy. He is obstinate all day long and way behind in his development. His parents failed him miserably and now it’s my turn to be the male role model he never had. I’m hard on him. I expect a lot more than he’s used to and he gets mad pretty much every time we’re together but do you know what else happens, he runs to greet me every time I pick him up at daycare. He’s happy to see me even though he knows we’re going to butt heads. I might be the first man in his young life who ever gave him high expectations and always came back again to push him up the ladder even higher.
Fixing broken children is a slow and deliberate process made even more difficult by the world at large. It’s also lonely work because foster children are often forgotten in their struggle. They suffer their undeserved noble sorrows in isolation with guys like me who show up once a week and take them by the hand for a few short hours. When this little one runs to meet me, I smile and ask him how his day went because he always has his report card with him and it’s usually not great. Then I tell him what my expectations are and they are always beyond his ability. I will never settle for less with him and he just keeps coming back for more. I’m going to put him back together even if it takes my last breath. I owe him my greatest deeds yet.
Here’s my takeaway from this short story. Whatever you do in life, do it with all the ability you have and with your whole heart. Set high expectations for yourself and those around you. A meaningful, purpose-filled and wonderful life isn’t going to happen by chance. Great deeds are required and noble sorrows are inevitable. We don’t get one without the other and every great moment of our existence happens with other people. A self-centered life will never be a great life because life is meant to be shared with as many people as possible. That doesn’t happen if we never leave the house or put down our phones.
The more I work with children the more I realize that we will never raise them up if we just keep lowering the bar of achievement. I’m tough on these kids and most of them appreciate it. The older ones, who have already been sucked into the mindless vacuum of the internet, are nearly impossible to motivate and they are headed for sorrows that are much less than noble. I feel sorry for them but arguing with them is a waste of time. I have to focus on the ones I can change. Right now my focus is on one little boy who still wears diapers and speaks almost no words. His sisters talk to him like a baby and they hear it from me when they enable his behavior. I expect him to speak plainly and behave willingly. I’m not doing him any good if I let him slide back to infantile actions.
That’s my greater point to all the adults who are reading this post. WE are not doing our job if we let the younger generation slide back into selfishness, conceit, distraction and no real sense of achievement. WE need to raise the bar higher every day and then be there for them to coach and encourage them to do whatever it takes to make that leap. I don’t really care if my work is ever noted in history but I do care that I tried to make a difference and I gave it my best effort. If anyone out there considers the words I have written here to be great then I have God to thank for giving me that opportunity. All of my noble sorrows have led me to great deeds and for that I feel truly blessed.
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