We all have those moments in time that we wonder what would have happened if we had handled things differently. But what would that mean for us? Would we still be the same as we are? Would we have changed so much that we wouldn’t recognize ourselves if we looked in the mirror? Lots of questions can form but the important thing is to keep going forward and not question or berate the decisions we made previously.
One of the campaigns that I have worked on is for a young girl who is trying to keep her immigration status legit. She has disabilities and was rescued from a country that has high poverty levels. If she were to go back, she would be going in a system with no family, and very little hope. She blazes a trail of courage every day. For a seven year old with no legs, she teaches each person that she meets that love, hope, and faith are just part of what makes every day special. She exudes courage and determination that most of us struggle with all our lives and yet for her, it’s a daily experience.
Then there are the young girls that I had the pleasure of meeting when volunteering with Empowered Girls of NC. They are determined to not let their circumstances in life determine their future. They are the movers and shakers who are not just becoming the leaders of tomorrow. They are shaping into the leaders of now with a strength and conviction that has been tested much of their young lives. They are bound to create incredible moments in our history because they are not willing to let race, or social status create their roles in their future. They are teaching everyone who is willing to be touched by their stories and their presence that they are representative of where this world is going. That place is unwritten because they are just starting their chapters but it’s a success story in the making.
As I work with other churches in the area, I’m amazed at the attitudes that I see in various congregations. There are people within those walls who do not want change and fight it at every opportunity. Unfortunately, they are the same people who give a presence of stuffiness and unwelcome feelings when a person walks through the doors. They do not see that their actions are preventing churches from growing. Ours is a society where if we don’t learn to adapt with the changes that we see, that we will forever be struggling to grow. In many ways they don’t want to forge ahead but rather imprint moments in time and freeze them. Life isn’t this way. Time doesn’t stop for any of us. We all get a little older, a little wiser, and our bodies change as we age. Joints begin to complain, eyesight can get weaker along with hearing. We may have more medical issues as we age but we are forced to keep blazing ahead even when the world seems as if it’s holding us back.
I’ve watched and learned a lot over the years. If you ever get the chance to travel abroad, you will encounter many different cultures and traditions from country to country. Relations are different. There are some countries where if a person does not care for the elders in their family that they can be imprisoned. Respect is different. There are villages that if you don’t attend a person’s funeral, then no one will go to yours. Cultures are interpreted within families differently than many families in the states. There is also a difference in the motivation and drive of the people who live in various regions. Hard work is nothing new to many of them. In fact, many of the villages have farmers, merchants, specialized markets like blacksmith, cobblers, gem cutters just to name a few. We have them here in the states but it’s a little different. That’s not to take away from all of us who work hard. Many of us work in textiles or retail or offices. There are many artisans among us and it’s no different there. The only exception is that most of the artisans there make their money off of tourists. It’s a very different mindset. There is a pride in their work that doesn’t exist as much in the States. The quality of their work is unique and sharp. I’m not talking about products that are massed produced. What I’m referring to are the masters of their craft. The ones who blaze the trail of quality and ingenuity. It’s through their workmanship that we can often see into the past as well as the future simultaneously. Most of the villages have their items out for display in a market type of environment. Yes, there are wealthier areas as well as impoverished but one thing is the common denominator of every sect within those towns and villages. The people are driven every day. You won’t hear them complain of their angst. Instead, they welcome the opportunity to educate people. If you allow them, they will help you begin to blaze your knowledge by not limiting your ability to learn.
You don’t have to travel the world to see the trailblazers of the world. In every part of the world there are people who stand out. For some reason, they seem to have the “it” factor. They are the ones who get the credit for making billion dollar decisions and for getting companies back on their feet. Yet, for every single one of these men and women, there are millions who work behind the scenes to make them look good. Just because you get to the top doesn’t mean that you have to forget those who helped get you there and yet so many of the CEO’s and corporate bigwigs forget all the men and women who worked as a team to help make them stand out. The blue collar workers set a blazing example for those who live in their white collar world. We need both groups. But just because someone isn’t in a role that you think deserves respect, that doesn’t give anyone the right to belittle them. I was in an elevator one day with a man who was very powerful in the company that I was working at. There was a plumber in the elevator with us. The CEO couldn’t be bothered with small talk. All he could do was talk on his phone. He made a derogatory remark about the “little people”. Little did he know that the plumbing needed fixing on the floor he was going on. I kind of chuckled at the scenario because the plumber had every right to make the man and his staff wait. However, unlike the CEO, the plumber was kind, courteous, and extremely professional. When I asked him later why he responded the way he did, he looked at me and said “Two wrongs don’t make a right. If I stoop to his level then I’m being as derogatory as he is. I choose to maintain a professional image and not let others get under my skin.” I’ve never forgotten that encounter. He chose to forge ahead in his life even though he was made fun of.
The main gist that I’m getting to is that as a society we have so many things that hold us back. We have friends who don’t realize the ramifications of their actions and make us feel inferior. We also have people in our professional and personal circles who make us question our worth and our contributions. Don’t let anyone make you feel that you aren’t good enough. Not only are you good enough but you have your own “it” factor. People were born to stand out and not stand in the shadows. If you want to be in the shadows by choice that’s one thing but if you are in the shadows because you feel no one will see you then don’t let fear be the reason that you don’t push through the negativity in life. We all share struggles. We all have questions about where we are going and what we are going to be doing in the future. Some of us have plans and are able to bring those plans to fruition but it’s a small population that succeeds in doing this. For every very successful man and woman, there are millions who struggle every single day to just keep food on the table and be able to have a roof over their head. They are blazing forward every day. Every minute and every second can feel like a lifetime for many people. Blaze through the negativity. Create the future you want. As long as we all have a breath in us, it’s never too late to change things. Be willing to learn from your mistakes and forge through the obstacles. One obstacle at a time is all you need to get through.