Giving Up Potential 

Hello readers! I have been blogging slump this summer. I have learned that going to class fuels my creativity and blogging concepts. Today, I have an idea to write about and I’m excited to write something with ‘meat’ (well, not meat of course, I’m a vegetarian.)

I spend many hours with children whether I am babysitting, teaching, or simply being a friend. A few short days ago I was volunteering in my synagogues nursery with a friend. As we were watching the children my fellow worker started a depressing conversation about college, ACT scores, school options, and career choices. Out of curiosity, I asked the kids what they are going to be when they grow up.

“I’m going to be a vet!” said one child. Keeping the conversation going I asked if they had ever visited the vet when their parents took their pets to receive their shots. “We don’t have any pets; I’ve never been to the vet.”

I asked another child what their plans are when they grow up. 

“I’m going to be a teacher.” I wasn’t sure how old this child was and I asked if they have gone to school yet. “No, I haven’t gone to school yet.”

Next I told the group of kids the classic line, “You can be anything that you want to be.” The children were playing and I’m not sure if they even listened to me. 

When I am with children I want to be encouraging. I want them to believe that they can accomplish whatever they want in life. I want them to know that they have the power to make an impact in the world. In fact, I want everyone to believe that – at any age.

It was just probably the community that I grew up in, but my parents never told me that I couldn’t choose a certain career field. I believed that I could make a change in the world. As a child I would answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” by saying. “I’m going to go to Wichita State University and become an engineer and make airplanes.” Or, “I’m going to be — in the entertainment industry.” Those are two opposite career fields, but my parents encouraged me in both desires. My summers would include going to science and theater camp. I was only slightly  talented on the performing side of things, but I also loved science. Once I asked my parents if I could take apart the television set just to see what’s inside, then try to put it back together. 

When I was homeschooled, I was constantly around youth who had the desire and capabilities to make a mark on the world. I was around 4-H kids and we did service projects together, and they would talk about how they are taking their projects to serve their community. Most of my homeschool friends had parents who made sure that their children used their academic abilities to better the world and have a nice list of accomplishments for college applications. This was normal. My peers were impacting the world in a positive way, there wasn’t a reason that I couldn’t. 

When I went to school the year before high school I had many culture shocks. I think the biggest one was that Kansas actually has countryside. The second one was that I was around students with the capability of more academic success, and parents with more financial resources than I will ever have, but my peers didn’t have the desire to change the world or the confidence to try. I never figured it out. Granted, there were a few who worked to their potential in and outside of the classroom, who pushed themselves to the limits and had success, maybe not worldly success in the way one is when they are involved in their comunity. That was not the, “norm” however. 

To this day, I don’t understand it. Earlier this week I embarrassingly found myself in a cyber argument in a private facebook message group. We were talking about politics and these beautiful and greatly talented girls wished that the government was in a different state. I suggested that we take a road trip to Topeka and talk to those who are representing us on government issues. Long story short, these girls were not up for a road trip; they comunicated that they didn’t feel that they could make actual change in the government now. 

I am seeing that this type of thinking is entirely too common. Not just from youth but all ages. I especially think that in the Christian community we, in a way, tend to hide from the worlds problems. We say, “The world just needs Jesus! I can’t change anything.” But my question is, “Who’s going to show them Jesus?” We can pray for the world. It needs prayer, but it also needs action from Christians. We take Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed by the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and use it as a way to avoid what’s going on in the world. I mean, if we just stay in our perfect Christian circles that sets us apart right? My Jesus was set apart from the world, but my Jesus hung out with outcasts, helped others, and made sacrifices – even the ultimate one. He didn’t just sit around waiting for his Father to change the world, He went out and did it. 

Don’t misunderstand me. The world needs prayer, but it also needs action. But the thing is, I probably know more non-religious individuals who are willing to and physically go and serve those in need than Christians. We pray for the world to drastically change, to know You, but if we just sit back and physically don’t go out and at least try to make a difference in the world…what will happen?

I think that the first part of making a change in the world is first believing that you can do so.

I’ve probably sat through too many keynote speakers at 4-H camp and conferences, but I won’t let someone else determine if I can change something or not. I won’t let doubts or insecurities about my age or circumstances play a role in it. I think the reason most of my peers at school didn’t seem to want to make the effort to change the world was because they never were told that they could at a young age or have been around those who tried. 

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed something special at synagogue. My congregation is growing and it’s a blessing. The hoopah that was almost empty at one time is full – filled with children and several expecting mothers. We are running out of room in the building that we are meeting in. One evening after service several children were busybees. They had paper and crayons and that’s all they needed because they were making notes that said, “You are so loved.” They delivered  these notes away in a way that was as special as they are. They wrote the notes and but them on people’s seats, on top of Bibles and tenachs. These kids didn’t know who they were blessing, and I don’t know if they knew that. These children were not of a bar/bat mitvah age, not even close, but even in their young age they have started to change the world. 

“The most common way people give up their power is thinking that they don’t have any.” ~ Alice Walker 

One comment

  1. Lydia Ruth · July 30, 2016

    Wow! Leah I really heard the spirit speak though you. I was moved. And I think God used this post to inspire its readers to make a diffrents in the world. But a follow up blog might be…ohhh who’s mark are you going to leave on this earth? God’s mark or yours? Because if we make our own name famous what dose that lead to? Maybe, if your lucky, riches, power, earthly glory, but what dose it amount to in the end? Nothing really. And you’ll find out that most people  who have all that are not satisfied. On another note, I don’t really think our peers at Berean’s parents “Never” believed in their kids. In my opinion I’d say no one but God and themselves can truly know their intents or why they do things. And most of the time we don’t know why we are doing something(good or bad) until God shows us and helps us change. God has been teaching me something I would like to share with you as your friend and sister in Christ. Sometimes when I meet a person for the first time I (my brain, so sub constantly) try to figure out who they are and if they’ll be my friend. I put a label on them in my mind. I did this with a guy I met at camp. When I first saw him and asked my head counselor who he was, she told me that she had heard the had he lived on a farm and really didn’t know the guy. For some reason l made a note in my mind that he would be no fun. Which was REALLY wrong as I got to know the guy though out the week he was the most fun of all the counselors. He was great with kids and loved them. We became pretty good friends since he was Ethan’s counselor. In conclusion I think sometimes our mind label someone in a bad  way and  we maybe don’t even notice. It’s not really the thought that’s wrong its what we do with that thought. At Berean I saw most of the girls in my class as stuck up popular kids who had no time for me. Which was really wrong at the time. Even though it might of been true, what did that do good for me? If I was wrong and they did reach out to me I probably didn’t encourage them to be my friend. Anyways what I’m trying to say is that some times when we judge people and decide their not going to be our friend so we don’t give them any more than a little bit of our attention in the end, the only one that’s really missing, out most of the time, is us. I hope my email encouraged you to maybe give our peers at Berean a little grace in your mind. Thanks for taking the time to read this incredibly long email from you friend…-Lydia 

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