My daughter has been feeling “less than” lately. And what I mean by “less than” is that she is coming into an age of self-awareness where she sees what she can do versus what others can do. She sees how we as a society praise talents – talents above and beyond “typical” and how we watch those, applaud those, seek them out, and pay for them. Whether it be writing books, playing basketball, ballet, banjo or juggling. We seek that special something in someone. We want to be entertained and we admire someone with talents.
And maybe it’s angst or the age or the weather – but she feels like she has none. She can dance, and play piano, and sports, and get straight A’s – but she feels she would not be watched, or paid, or be anything special.
Mediocrity in the art of existing and not standing out if you will.
Do you feel yourself there? Do you know how this feels? Now? Before? How you feel you have nothing to offer someone else. Do you offer up your “I cants” before your “I cans” or talk down your abilities. Maybe you are more self-aware and self-confident..and I praise you now as that is a beautiful talent.
Six months ago(and many months and years and really my lifetime) I’ve felt the same. I told her this. I’ve listed the things I can kind of do – but I’m not great at them. No one has paid to come see me dance or do math – but I’m quite okay at both of them. There are many things that I can do – some embarrassing, some mediocre, and a few well. But I don’t feel like I have any real talents.
So when I signed up for a mission trip to Haiti, I almost canceled because I questioned what I could bring. The last thing I wanted to do was pull on their already limited resources. The last thing I wanted to do was to take up space. As I am not a doctor, a dentist, a nurse, a cook, an aid worker, a counselor, an educator, a minister, a singer to provide entertainment, an expert in resources, an architect, or a builder.
I am “just” a person. What talent could I bring to a place and people that need so much.
I told this story to my daughter. I met her eyes and told her that still I was unsure, what was my point, my talent. How could someone so obviously “less than” touch and help people who needed so much more.
And I still arrived in Haiti unsure of my use – as what do we do with the talentless.
It turns out the last thing that I needed though was to know of building, or medicine, or singing, or water filtration systems. I had what they needed right there with me all along. The talent that we all possess – my heart and my hands. All I needed to do for the week was to hold he who needed to be held, and dance with she who needed to dance, and laugh with those who needed to laugh, and cry with those who needed to cry. I rubbed feet – caked with mud, dust, sores and miles that had been walked. I rocked babies – sick and without parents. I held hands of teenagers who needed someone to connect with, and I held toddlers who may have never felt a hug their entire life.
My touch and heart may not cure a disease, feed a child, or house an elderly – but my touch and heart let them know that they are not alone and that we care every single day about them.
You will never be without a talent if you have the ability to let your heart be broken enough so you can show everyone the gift of unconditional love. Their basic need was to feel someone’s touch, to be held, to be thought of, and to be loved. To feel compassion.
That is a talent to be applauded much louder than any piano recital or basketball game.
There is one boy who will always stay with me. The boy who taught me this lesson. We entered an orphanage for special needs children and he approached me immediately as we entered. And when I say approach – I mean he saw me and then came running towards me as fast as he could. He was physically challenged – but mobile, he wasn’t wearing pants, he was deaf and unable to speak, and he jumped into my arms, wrapping himself around me and he held me so tight. He stayed there in my arms for the two hours we were there. I walked around in a bouncing way like I held my own children when they were babies or when they are frightened, and eventually he fell asleep with his head on my shoulder. At that moment, I knew that I was all that he needed to feel safe and loved. If only for that moment.
Everyone deserves that moment from someone. We all need to use our hearts and hands to give everyone that moment of peace.
You, my child, are so filled with talents to give that I might just explode listing them all. So let’s just start with your heart.
Written today with thousands of others who are writing about compassion. #1000speak
Back in October – I went on a mission to Haiti with Healing Haiti. If you are looking to help, donate, or to go on a mission – Healing Haiti is an incredible organization to support. This is not sponsored blog content – I went on the mission on my own with my own funds and funds raised from friends and families. I plan to go again and take my daughter in the near future. Love you all.