Broccoli and Ballet: When Things that Aren’t Your Thing Become Your Thing

I was sitting at dinner last night eating, among other things, a pile of broccoli (the 11-year-old me would definitely say I’ve sold out).  While we were eating, one of my daughters was showing us the new ballet moves she learned in dance class.

I’ve never completely gotten ballet.  I mean I definitely get that it is a beautiful art form and that these are people who are infinitely more athletic than I’ve ever been or ever will be.  But that’s all head knowledge.  What I mean is that Ballet is not something I’d naturally seek out or get excited to go and watch.  I did, however, go to the Nutcracker once with my wife.  Will you think I’m terrible if I tell you I couldn’t stay awake for the whole thing?

So, while I was at our kitchen table eating broccoli and watching ballet, it occurred to me that these are both things that have never been my thing.  But now that I’m a dad who wants to both be into the stuff my kids are into and who wants to stay alive as long as possible, ballet and broccoli have now BECOME my thing.

There are parts of advocating for children that you love and come naturally to you.  Those are the ideas, new connections, and initiatives you daydream about when you are brushing your teeth and driving to pick up the kids from school. Even as you read this, something in this category probably comes to mind for you.

But then there’s the other stuff.

The other stuff for a lot of us includes things like paper work, project management, fundraising and administrative detail (though there are a some of you that are freakish exceptions).  These things are just not our thing.

Even if you are part of a team (full of those freakish exceptions I mentioned who joyfully take on a lot of these tasks so you don’t have to), there are still aspects of your role that are hard for you to tackle each day.

But those things that are not our thing can become our thing when we realize they eventually result in . . .

  • an 8-year-old girl getting to go back home to her mom who has just completed her treatment plan and is doing really well
  • A 12-year-old who has been waiting for a family for 3 years walking out of a court room with his new mom and dad
  • A church staff member calling to tell you they are committed to finding 10 new foster and adoptive families in the next year.
  • An adoptive parent calling you just to let you know they had a huge break-through in connecting with a child who had been struggling
  • A social worker crying when you show up with flowers at the end of a terrible, horrible day

Those are the moments that can take the things that were never our thing and make them our thing.  We understand that sometimes the road to beautiful places is paved with boring gray asphalt.

Because in the right circumstances, and for the right reasons, broccoli and ballet are really not that bad.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What are three things you have to do as your advocate for children that you don’t naturally love?
  2. What are one or two things that have happened in your advocacy for children in the past year that could not have been possible without doing at least one of those difficult or mundane tasks?
  3. What is one thing you can you do this week to move forward in one of those difficult areas that has you stuck because you are just having a hard time getting excited about it?