When my husband and I had been married a little over a year, we moved to Brandon, MS and we both worked in a small private school. We didn't know many people except the other coaches and their wives. But the town's people were very friendly and before long we felt welcomed and very comfortable in our new surroundings.
One of the teachers at the school "took me under her wing" and she and I became good friends. She had a garage sale once and I bought all her "old" Christmas decorations. She was updating and I LOVED her old ones...big sugar coated pink lollipops and frosted pastel candy canes. With the exception of last year, I have used those same decorations every year since 1979! Everyone was pretty miffed at me last year for changing to a purple and copper theme, so this year it's back to the "candy theme".Through the years she and I have lost touch, but for a few short years we were close, and she was responsible for one of the greatest paradigm shifts in my adult thought life.
During the school's homecoming week, my friend was in charge of the Homecoming Dance. She planned and bought decorations, lined up a vast array of food, contacted the band, secured chaperones and worked much magic on the cave-like atmosphere of the old gym. Anyone who has ever had to deal with a Mississippi Homecoming knows the territory she tread. That night I agreed to help her and when I walked into the gym it really looked very nice. Tablecloths were on the refreshment tables, the punch was in a pretty bowl, lights twinkled here and there and the band was warming up. She was buzzing around all over the place, and I noticed how she kept glancing at the door, waiting for the crowd of excited teenagers to arrive. We waited and waited, checked our watches, drummed our fingers on the table, but they never came. (I recall a few came in, stopped at the door, saw that it was hardly the place to be and left.)
Finally about 11:15 I said, "Do you think we should start putting things away?" She said, "I guess so, it doesn't look like many are coming, does it?" Many?! How about zilch, nada, zero? I was so hurt for her. Now if this had been me and I had gone to all this trouble and nobody showed up, you would have had to take me out in a gunny sack. I said, "I know you are so disappointed. I am sorry. I feel terrible for you." She looked me dead in the eye and without a trace of malice in her voice, she said, " Hey, I did my best. I did my job. They are the ones who lost out on a fun time, not me."
The earth didn't shake, but I did do a double take. That was a profound statement. Could I ever view outcomes in the same way? I posted a FB comment Sunday about a statement I read in the Sunday paper by Dr. Ian Smith. It read,"Base your happiness not on an outcome, but on your contribution or performance in achieving that outcome." I made some crack about not being "happy" with a project that was a bomb, even if my performance was stellar. I had a good discussion with a former student about this and I've thought about it a lot since then. (BTW: this student gave me a big sack of the greatest kindling for my fireplace when he was in the 7th grade. It was his Christmas present to me and I'll always remember that kind gesture, Scott!)
I don't think Miss Upbeat would have been pleased with my crack about the project that bombed. Why should she be? She really meant that statement about when you do your best, you have to leave the rest in the Lord's hands. The outcome is His to determine. And after all, who are you doing this for anyway? NOT for the praise of men, but as unto the Lord should be the answer. She pretty much lived her life that way and she taught me a very valuable lesson that evening.
Lessons to be Learned:
1. Do your part and do it to the VERY best of your ability.
2. Lay the outcome at the throne of the Father.
3. Ask for grace to live with the results, whatever they may be.