I had morning duty this morning. Which means that I got all the girls up at 6am and washed and ready for church. They actually did their morning chores but there were tiffs about shoes and complaints about clothes and the monkey got in the dorm and pooped on the floor and I got through it and now I just feel spent. My patience is spent. It is a good thing that today is not the day that I got hit in the head with a rock.
On days like this I have lots of internal dialogue. I tell myself its normal to feel tired and impatient when I am with all these girls all the time. But I look at other people and think I don’t work as hard as they do and therefore have no right to be this tired. In a city full of charities, NGO’s, and other projects I look at what little I have accomplished in my almost two months here and I feel stupid. And lazy. So I try to reconcile in my mind that, while God expects us to give our best, he doesn’t measure success in the same way the world does. But how do I know when I am giving my best?
Is sometimes my best different things? I know I need alone time to be at my best. But what is the difference between giving my best and being at my best? Is my best always sitting with the girls, all the time when they’re around even when I’m not on duty? Is my best sometimes taking that time to plan and create and formulate other ideas and inspirations for them? Sometimes when I’m tired it probably is best to go take some time away so I don’t lose it or become irritable with the girls…right?
I know sometimes my best means that I sit and let a little one be in my lap even though I could be working on other things. Some days it means walking to the supply closet 11 times in 2 hours to take the girls to get more crochet thread to make hats. Sometimes it is oohing and aahing over the work they are doing and sometimes it is washing tire rubber from the garbage for the second time because it still smells like stink. Sometimes it is being mean and punishing them and sometimes it is showing mercy. Sometimes it is sitting and mending five backpacks, cleaning pus-filled wounds, telling a bedtime story.
But I know I don’t always give my best, whatever it is. Sometimes I walk by when someone is crying. I lose my cool. I shirk responsibility. Sometimes I play dumb.
I can’t be all things all the time. And I just don’t know. I know we need time to be still and quiet before the Lord. And I want to be successful in this life. But by whose definition? Obviously I’m not in this line of work for the money. But I do want to be successful with this grant money and this project to teach income-generating skills to girls and women living in extreme poverty. But some days, no matter how hard I can try, all I manage to accomplish is baby-sitting these kids for a few hours. And even then I don’t always feel like I did a good job. So that sort of feels like a waste, but also really what could be more important? Who is judging? Some days I can’t even get the girls to work with the beads! Failure.
I think it is hard to read your internal gauge of bestness when you feel tired in and out. So I will keep trying to give my best. Whatever that is each day.
“The Gospels confront us with the persistent voice inviting us to move from where it is comfortable, from where we want to stay, from where we feel at home.” Henri Nouwen