“Congratulations. Your item sold!” went the eBay email. It was my first big sale for Bob’s Pawndamonium, my killer client in my new promotion business. For Bob, I had taken a $250 Dale Earnhardt print and sold it for a cool ten bucks. My commission, a buck and a half, almost enough for a hot-dog at Costco.
Big problem. I had to cover the cost of sending it, frame and all. There went my commission and then some. My first foray into self-employment was a NASCAR wreck. Trying to please everybody—Bob, some kid in Tennessee, not to mention P.G. and E., wasn’t going so well. It’s a good darned thing I believe in miracles. I’d be in trouble without them.
Enter my faith, the one thing no one has been able to mess with. I decided to be Dave. I told Bob at the pawnshop I’m a screw-up—as if he didn’t know. And I told the buyer, the NASCAR kid, I would fulfill my part of the bargain. The kid wrote— “thank you and i am alradey [sic] for to come. i got a place were [sic] i will put it.” You have to love that kid.
So for much of a Saturday, when I could have been getting life in order, I was packing up the picture so that it would not break. To send it cost me more money than I could afford. But a funny thing happened on the way to the post office, a strange sense of pride.
Suddenly, my job performance, which wouldn’t be good enough for some people, was good enough for me. I’d pay back the pawnshop, and somewhere in the heartland, some kid will hang the photo of his hero. Bad for business. Good for me.
I got the same sense of pride sending a dusty old mandolin to a man in the Deep South. “I bet I saved a bunch of money on that mandolin, didn’t I?” said Clyde proudly in his deep southern drawl. Yes he did. I could see Clyde picking “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” his bird dog snoring under the porch.
Often, we are caught up in the gears of other’s expectations. When we fall short, we think we have failed. But in thinking so, we have failed ourselves. So instead of lamenting what we are not, we celebrate who we are. It sometimes helps to write out the things you like about yourself, just in case others around you forget to do so. And they will.
Not everyone will agree. And sometimes nobody does. Often, I have beaten-up myself over the people I have disappointed—brothers, daughters, bosses, spouses, families. If only I could generate more company revenue or family income, they would have loved me. The TV station would have kept me. My daughter would have loved me.
But that is to surrender to a standard that is short-sighted and unfair. And besides, for many of them, you could not have done enough. Never enough.
That is why I have found people who understand and forgive. Lots of them live among us. One morning, an auto technician appeared at my front door. He had read my column about my broken car window and the repair shop that would not fix it without cash up front. The man at my door wanted to fix my car for nothing, no questions asked.
Change is frightening. But change is easier to face when you focus on things that stay the same– among them, your own beauty and—with faith, the love you need.