You’ve Got to Give it Your Best

Or, Things I Learn from My Kids, Vol. 1

Today, I’m starting a new series here on My Cup Runs Over called Things I Learn from My Kids

As a homeschooling mama, I spend so much time planning lessons and worrying about what my kids are learning (or, as it so often seems, not learning). I read new homeschooling books each year, study provincial learning outcome requirements, and pore over curriculum catalogues, all in an endless effort to make sure we’re covering everything we’re supposed to.

What never fails to amaze me, though, is how much my kids already know, either from things they’ve read on their own, inferences they’ve made from prior knowledge, or just from the pure, simple wisdom of childhood. If I’d just be quiet and listen to them more often, I would learn a lot. 

So this series is dedicated to chronicling the little bits of wisdom I collect from my kids each week. I hope you enjoy it.

Things I learn from my kids: You've got to give it your best

You’ve Got to Give it Your Best Anyway

As some of you know, my dear friend Carrie has written an incredibly beautiful musical based on Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s book Understood Betsy. Her equally gifted daughter, Ellie, will be directing this musical and I’ll be helping them bring it to the stage next February. This weekend they’re holding auditions and my two eldest daughters and I are trying out. This is the first time I’ve auditioned for anything since my elementary school put on The Wizard of Oz twenty-three years ago. I’m rusty, to say the least. 

Last night at dinner, the girls and I were discussing the auditions and I remarked to them about an observation I’d made: 

“All of the adults I’ve spoken to who are auditioning for the show want the smallest parts. We all want a tiny spot in the background where we can still have all the fun of being in a musical, but without any risk of derailing the performance with our insufficiency. But all the kids I’ve spoken to want the lead role. Why is that?”

They had many great reasons. “The lead role is the most fun. You get the most lines, the most songs. You’re in almost every scene. You’re the star.”

Thinking I had something to teach them about humility, I rebutted, “But don’t you think about the fact that somebody else might be better for that part than you? Don’t you want the role to go to the person best suited to it, to maximize the overall quality of the show?”

For this is, of course, what we adults who are auditioning are worried about. There are so many people who can do it so much better than we can; why would they want us?

“Well, sure,” my nine-year-old replied. “But that’s not for us to decide. You just have to give it your best and leave it up to the directors to decide who is right.

Cue jaw drop. 

I had nothing to say to that. She’s absolutely right. Who are we to say that we’re not good enough? The directors know what they’re doing; if we show them what we’ve got, they’ll make the right choices. 

But more than that, I realized that this does not apply only to audition preparations. I’ve been holding myself back in many areas for years because I lack confidence in the things I do. Who would want to read the books I write? Why would anyone want to hear what I have to say? There are so many people out there who write better books, who have better stories, more education, more wisdom than I do. We should all be listening to them, not to me. 

But my daughter’s assessment is dead on. That’s not for us to decide. We’ve just got to give it our best and leave it up to them. Put your heart and soul into that book, that article, that seminar, and put it out there. Leave it up to ‘the experts’ to decide what they think of it. For all you know, there could be someone out there who needs to hear exactly what you have to say right now, no matter how unimportant you think it is. 

As I’ve reflected on the word fearless over the past five months, I’ve listened to the song No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music more than usual. I try to absorb the powerful message at the heart of the chorus: “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”

Romans 8:15 The Spirit that we received is not a spirit that makes us slaves again and causes us to fear. The Spirit that we have makes us God’s chosen children.

It’s one thing to know this in our heads; it’s a completely different one to be convinced of it in our hearts. But maybe not so for some children. Maybe fear is something we’ve gotten used to over years of being bullied, ridiculed, or put down. Maybe we we became enshrouded in fear as a result of abusive relationships where we were made to feel worthless. 

But Jesus calls us by our name, and He declares that we are not worthless, we are not what others have decided we are. We are children of God, and what we have to say and do in the world is important. His word says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I love that He can use the wisdom of a little child to trample fears that have pervaded my life for decades. 

How about you? What have your children taught you about overcoming fear and self-doubt? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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