Because the small victories matter

Even though I would like to be talented at everything I try and on my A game at all moments, that’s definitely not the case.

At all.

Some days are much more difficult than others in a number of ways, and they remind me that I can’t be good at all of the things—or even do all of the things—all of the time. Simply put, I’m a freaking human.

Fun fact: Ashlie and I have the same birthday!

Saturday was one of those extremely humbling days for me. It started off pretty well. I had a nice run, and then I ate froyo and got to hang at the beach for a bit with my friend Ashlie, and I didn’t do anything significantly wrong—but the day was still young.

During my flag football game that afternoon, I was just off. I dove to pull a flag off the quarterback and basically ate sand (and somehow missed his flags completely), and then I ran a route I wasn’t supposed to and didn’t get open. The worst, though, was when I made a really great catch and should have knelt immediately to get the girl first down (I still hate those and think they should be ousted), but I ran and tried to get the touchdown, instead. Thankfully, we got one on the next down, but our QB was pretty pissed with me when I did that.

I felt a little discouraged after that game. I’m an athlete, and I’m good at football, so why did I suck so much that day?

That evening, I served in the children’s ministry during my church’s Saturday Easter service. It was a blast playing with the kids, and we had a bunch of fun activities lined up for them after service ended. The first of those was the candy drop. We stood on the balcony overhead, while the children and their parents were on the first floor below. There was a large squared-off space in which we dropped the candy for specific age groups when the student ministries director said “go.” When we got to the final group, we decided to drop all of the buckets of candy (we had quite a few left) at once. However, when we heard “go,” the bucket somehow got caught on my wrist, so my drop was a little delayed, and when the candy fell, it was at such an odd angle that it hit a bunch of kids—and their parents who weren’t even trying to participate—on their heads.

Oops.

This is my free-hand version of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I got skillz.

I felt really bad but tried to shake it off as I hustled downstairs to go man the glitter tattoo station. I’ve applied temporary tattoos on myself before, but apparently I was much better at it when I was a kid. Multiple children left my side of the table with partially messed up tattoos. And I’m pretty sure only half of the glitter was actually going to stick because I had issues figuring out the whole stencil thing. Needless to say, one of my strengths in life is not in the arena of art (unless it involves creating homemade birthday cards with markers, crayons, and colored paper). I had to apologize to more than one parent for my poor abilities, but they were very gracious about my talent deficiencies.

As I drove home that evening, I reflected on the many situations that had made me feel a little inadequate. Friends, that’s a horrible road to travel. Then I remembered something that took me out of my negative place: I got Kyla to stop crying.

Kyla is an adorable 2-year-old who was in the children’s area while her mom was in service Saturday night. She had been crying for a while, and no one could get her to stop. She really wanted her mom, and she wanted her right then and there. I took her from the arms of a frazzled volunteer, and I soon convinced her that it was better for her to have fun until her mom got back, and then she could tell her all about the exciting things she did. Before I knew it, we were listening to a story, painting a picture, and then playing with some of the other children.

I had found a small victory, and that’s all I needed to boost my spirits.

Not a professional

Sometimes that’s all it takes—one simple victory that might not seem like much but was actually a pivotal moment or event that impacted you in bigger ways than you ever could have imagined. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t Jerry Rice during my game or that I didn’t have a flawless candy-dropping experience or that there are a handful of children walking around with chipped temporary Easter tattoos (they would have rubbed off some eventually, anyway). What matters is that Kyla wasn’t missing her mom and was able to enjoy her time with the other kids and me for at least a little while.

I love Maya Angelo’s quote that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I hope that I can remember that more often and try to make people feel better rather than trying to impress them with my words or abilities.

You’re going to have those “off” days, and you’re going to have moments when you wish you had certain talents and abilities that you don’t. Life is just tough sometimes. But, rather than focusing on everything you can’t do or don’t do well, think about those things that you’re really great at doing, and do those things often. You have those gifts and talents for a reason, and they’re meant to be used, not overshadowed by all of the flaws that you think you have.

I’m single and don’t seem to be able to attract the guys I like for long enough for them to stick around or pursue me, but I’m really good at encouraging people and leading them, and that’s what I’m going to focus on right now. It’s OK that I don’t have a boyfriend or husband; I have a community of people I love and trust and am excited for what’s possibly ahead. I don’t need to worry or stress about the things that I don’t have right now—I’d rather pay more attention to the gifts I’ve been given. In those moments when I think I don’t have love, I’m going to remind myself that I’m able to love and be loved in bigger ways than my mind can fathom.

I hope that you know how special you are as you are, and I hope that you’re able to focus on the unique things that make you who you are, and I hope you let them shine as brightly as light from the sun when you first walk outside after being in a dark movie theater.

Because light will always beat the dark shadows that try to ruin it.

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