“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” - Epictetus
It is easy to wish for different circumstances. It is easy to speak of how things could be. It is easy to see what one does not have. It is easy to look longingly at how things were. It is easy to criticize how things could have been done better.
But we do not seek the easy road.
Because the easy road does not lead to great things. The easy road does not lead to changed lives. The easy road does not lead to making a positive impact. The easy road does not lead to a thriving community.
Instead, we seek to be the difference in the lives of children. Amidst the chaos of the COVID lockdowns and restrictions we have worked hard to provide meaningful programming to assist the youth in our community. And we have done it together, with your support and generosity pushing us to succeed.
But the work can be discouraging. It is hard to remain positive with uncertainty hanging over us like a dark cloud. It is easy to let our attitudes diminish into pessimism.
But we do not seek the easy road.
We bring back to mind the good things, the successes, the wins. We relight the fire of our passion through gratitude.
As a part of our staff culture we have made it a habit every six months or so to reflect on the big wins. We do this to realign our vision and correct any unhelpful attitudes of discouragement. It has been an enlightening experience for us many times.
Let me invite you to reflect with us on the blessings and successes we have seen this year:
Isn’t it amazing how many good things have happened this year despite all the difficulties around us? Let me say “thank you” to each and every one of you who have stuck by us and the mission to build strong, young lives. You’ve made all of the above possible and you are leaving lasting impact in our community.
As we enter November and the season of Thanksgiving I would encourage you to lean into the art of gratitude. This year more than many is the time to do so. It is precisely when gratefulness feels so out of reach that we must strive to recall our blessings. Whether it is making a list of the things you have to be thankful for, recalling good memories with an old friend, or perhaps sharing our gratitude with others through service, we must work at remaining thankful.
I would like to leave you with these words from Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to rhythms of gratitude, these words have helped sustain me personally to press on amidst difficulty and fight off my own internal critic. It is easy to be critical of what we should or could have done differently or better but we can take courage knowing that we were the ones who stepped up when things were tough and made a difference, instead of holding back out of fear.
I hope these words will encourage you to press on in whatever good work is before you.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."