Today my dogs and I, together with some friends, hiked to a waterfall. The hike was a difficult one for me and I was nervous it would be difficult for my dogs as well. The truth is, until we got in the car, I thought we were going to a different waterfall, an easier one that my dogs had been to before. The truth is, if I knew we were going to this particular waterfall, I might have declined the invitation.
But we went, and it was awesome. The dogs did so well and had so much fun hiking and climbing and swimming. I had fun, too, watching the dogs and climbing with friends.
There was a point when a friend asked if I wanted to climb up on a rock and sit in the sun with her. She fairly easily pulled herself up onto this rock via another rock. I watched her do it, understood the how, but told her, “I don’t think I can do that.” She said, “Grab my hand, put your foot there.” And guess what? I did do it. I needed help, but I did it.
I’ve learned so much over the past two and a half years living in Jarabacoa. One of the biggies is that if I let fear and doubt motivate me, I will miss out on so much. When I underestimate myself, my dogs, and my students, even my friends, we all miss out. If I had let fear and doubt motivate me today, if I had gone with my underestimation of my dogs and myself, we wouldn’t have gone on the hike. We never would have known what we had missed out on, but we would have missed something.
When you start moving up the leadership ladder in the YouthWorks organization, they start asking you questions about your leadership and your ideal work environment and relationships. I was so grateful for my self-awareness when someone from YouthWorks asked me, “What do you need from your supervisor?” I confidently answered, “Clear communication and expectations. I also need frequent affirmation and encouragement, written or spoken.”
God has been so gracious to provide someone (often multiple people) in my life who provide frequent affirmation and encouragement for me. Today, my friend knew just how to encourage and affirm me as I hiked back up from the waterfall. I was so grateful. It’s an awesome thing to have people in your life who understand what you need to feel secure and loved and who then do that thing.
During my time here in Jarabacoa I have found people who affirm and encourage me. People I know I can always turn to when I need to be reminded of the truth (because fear and doubt and underestimating are LIARS). Unfortunately, because of the nature of this life, some of these people have moved away, and another important one will be moving soon. While I’ve been whining at God about them leaving me, and while I’ve had my eyes peeled for a man to become that person for me permanently, God has been teaching me how to be that person for myself. God has been teaching me how to affirm and encourage myself, so that when doubt and fear and the temptation to underestimate myself starts creeping in, I (me, myself!) can nip it in the bud with truth.
This is only possible because I’ve been holding on to the truth spoken to me by my people and the truth written in God’s word. Truth that says, “You are valuable and loved and lovely. Period.” Truth that says, “You are capable because of Whose you are and who you were created to be.” Truth that says, “Trust your soul.” Truth that says, “You might need to ask for help, but you can do it.” Truth that says, “You are a good teacher, a good dog mom, a good friend, a good daughter.”
When I do things my way, motivated by doubt and fear and an underestimation of myself, I miss out on the opportunity to learn to affirm and encourage myself. It’s when I ignore the fear, push aside the doubt, and trust myself that I realize I can do so much more than I thought I could.
Then this positive and more accurate view of myself translates to others around me. I end up setting the bar higher for my students, giving them more opportunities to grow and fail and ask for help and surprise themselves with what they can do. It’s even true for my dogs, even though some of you are rolling your eyes right now. They can do hard things, too.
What are you choosing instead of truth and affirmation? In what ways are you growing? What do you need from the people around you? How can you be that for yourself?