We Do Hard Things

by Kristi Van Dyk


Our Maddie is quite expressive - very feisty - and has "personality in spades." But, like her daddy, she is very choosy about who gets to see this side of her. Her church teachers, her treasured pastor and a few close friends are among the lucky few who get to see what kind of pizazz this creature possesses. It was this insight, I'm sure, that prompted the team to ask Maddie to take a "solo" in the pre-K section of the church lip dub. Maddie was VERY excited about this opportunity. She learned her song in less than a week, she had great style and charisma when we practiced it at home. When it came to the evening of the filming, she practiced with exuberance and lots of energy. She didn't mind repeating and reviewing it, rehearsing it and practicing. Despite her natural tendency to be guarded, she was not deterred by the big camera, or bright lights. She wasn't embarrassed by the 30-40 people watching her. She stepped in and sang her little heart out. She did the acting and all ... 

But, in the end, she wasn't spot on with her entrance. She hesitated a few seconds too long.  

Her sister replaced her and took over the part. 

Maddie was disappointed. She had worked hard, she had tried, and she had missed the mark. 

Since the filming still had to happen, she watched her big sister seal the deal. She participated along the sidelines. She didn't complain, (except about the noisy jingle bells) she continued to persist in what she was asked to do. 

Her sweet teachers encouraged her. They built her up. They loved on her. (AND they still gave her the special gift card for coffee ... because they know her, and they understand her coffee obsession). 

As her Momma, my heart broke a little ... I felt for my baby who had tried so many hard things. She had conquered many of her fears, but she was left without the satisfaction of a job well done. I beat myself up thinking that we were wrong to have even let her try. I wondered if this missed opportunity would keep her from doing something courageous next time ... 

The next morning, when I was ready to process, I asked her if she was disappointed. "Yes, I thought I was doing it all the right way. I was sure I was going to nail it."

I told her it was just really difficult and a very hard thing to do and that she needn't feel bad. I told her how proud I was that she wasn't scared, that she showed her true self, that she was confident and courageous to do a very big thing. 

At this moment, against all odds, her eyes lit up! The joy filled them and her energy returned, "Momma, do you mean it?" 
"Do I mean what, Mads?"
"Do you mean I did a hard thing?" 
"Of course you did a hard thing, Maddie. This was a very hard thing for four years old."
"Well, its just that Kayleigh does hard things at church and gets to talk in front of all of the whole big chapel at school. Benj gets to do hard swim tests and swim in front of people at the pool. You and Dad are doing hard things for Joshua. Everyone in our house always does hard things. But tonight, you mean it? You mean I did a hard thing? Just like them?" 

After wiping away MY tears, I came downstairs and realized what a gem of an insight this was from my precious (getting far too smart for her own good) daughter. Despite her inability to realize "success," Maddie was satisfied that she had a chance to do something meaningful. She cared less about the end result and more about the opportunity to tackle something huge.  This is incredibly wise.  

If only I were more focused on the chances at hand, if I could relish the opportunity to be used by God to do big things ... and if I could train myself to worry less about the final result. If I worked more at defining success as boldly answering a challenge, at seeing each response as a chance to be used for His greater purpose. If I knew that I only need to strive for my best in seemingly impossible situations ... then I can experience a sense of joy and fulfillment amidst what appears to be a failure. 

I'm sure there will be moments where the outcome of this adoption journey (not just the adoption process but the hard things that will happen as we re-shape our family) feel ugly, cruel, and painful. We might not meet with anything resembling "success" for a long long long long time. But, if we focus on our family's ability to simply DO hard things, regardless of the outcome, we will find success. By living out God's call - His hard things for us - we can't fail.

I told Steve, I think Maddie found our family motto ... We do hard things
 

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