Running out of Gas(tonia) … December 3, 2012


Mewhat I think I can do.

Mywhat I actually can do.

Minewhere I end up doing it.

Always remember: frustration is the residue from unrealistic expectation. There are certainly human maladies that cannot be healed by a change of attitude, but frustration and despair certainly are self-induced–because we have overestimated our self-worth.

I experienced that this weekend. Even though I find myself in a wheelchair, the rest of the world is not so bound nor inclined to be terribly sympathetic. Stairs are everywhere, walking is a must and weakness is viewed with pity instead of admiration.

So when I looked at my schedule and realized that I had three shows to do from Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon, which would include three separate set-ups, tear-downs and travel from place to place through the countryside of North Carolina, it seemed feasible in my mind because my brain temporarily became confused and thought I was twenty-two again.

I am not. I am healthy and still strong but require supplements of relaxation and naps to fuel the engine. I had none of those this week-end.

So it came down to whether I would be able to fulfill my mission and do justice to the lovely people who had gathered to hear what I have to offer. Fortunately, I learned a lesson many years ago–really, a very simple formula for success. Let me lay it out for you in three steps:

  1. Trim your self-worth.
  2. Multiply your talents.
  3. Go the second mile.

One of our biggest problem as human beings is that we over-exaggerate our abilities and don’t adequately compare them to the greater talents of others. It’s a mistake. In the pursuit of having confidence, which our culture touts as an essential for possessing fruitfulness, we end up with an inventory of our particular attributes and abilities that is far beyond reality. Trim your self-worth.

It doesn’t hurt to play down what you can do, because exceeding your promised package is only pleasing to other people. For instance, I was so happy on Saturday night when our sponsor told me that she was “really anticipating a great show–but this evening exceeded my expectations.”  Aha. There you go.

Now, here’s the double punch. Once you trim your self-worth, then start working on multiplying your talents to bring some surprises to those around you, who felt that maybe you had reached your limit. When I rolled up to the church Sunday morning, there were six steps to get into the sanctuary, with no ramp for my wheelchair whatsoever. The dear-hearted pastor of the church was wondering if they were going to need to carry me up the stairs. Since I have no Caesar complex, I rose from my wheelchair and ascended the tiny mountain on my own, with the aid of the sturdy handrail. They didn’t know I could do that–but it was a talent I needed for that moment and have worked to maintain for just such an occasion.

You have to multiply your talents or you become so predictable that humanity just might find you boring and then you could be silly and become offended.

Finally, there is a place we think we should be, but it is never where we end up. Even though I worked really hard this weekend, I found myself in front of about 150 to 200 people. A case could be made that I could have encountered more folks simply by setting up my equipment at the Kannapolis bus station. But since that was neither available nor even a pleasant thought, I ended up where I ended up. I don’t resent it. I don’t wish I was somewhere else. I don’t feel slighted. I feel blessed to have anybody give an ear to my thoughts.

Because of that, I can come in and give those people a show I would be proud to put on Broadway or network television. It is my second mile. I never perform for the size of the room. I always perform for the size of my faith.

You will find yourself running out of gas even in Gastonia, North Carolina if you get your “me, my and mine” out of whack. But if you take the time to trim your self-worth as you multiply your talents, accept where life has sent you and go the second mile, you not only will be valuable to the world around you, but you will be endowed with a giddy feeling of satisfaction–such as fills my soul on this morning.

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