There’s an old saying that I used to hear growing up in church all the time: I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. It would get a loud chorus of amens and it took me until adulthood to fully appreciate the phrase. Think about it, few of us (perhaps none of us) can say that we’ve fully arrived at the destination of our dreams. There’s still more work, more growing, more achieving to do. However, many of us (hopefully all of us) can look back over the course of our lives and acknowledge the important progress we’ve made despite setbacks. This morning I woke up with the song be grateful (the Jennifer Hudson version) in my head because gratitude was in my heart. It got me thinking about the importance of modeling gratitude as a daily habit, particularly as parents in a deeply flawed world where there’s already so much to complain about. How do we model gratitude when there are so many problems to solve?
Yesterday was a good day. I say that because I spent the entire day with school leaders from across my community in South Fulton getting aligned on 3 key messages for our work: #changeishappening, #goodteachingmatters, and #ourcommunitycares. As we spent time team building, skill building, and even vision setting it was deeply affirming to see some of the work that I’m passionate about be validated in a sense through our activities. It was also a long day, in the middle of a long week. Even though school hasn’t officially started back, it feels like I’m already getting back into weekly grind mode. Which again, I’m happy to have work worth doing, and even happier that it’s work I enjoy…but that doesn’t mean a brotha doesn’t get tired sometimes.
When I dragged my exhausted frame into the house last evening (at the earliest time this week thus far- only 5:30pm as opposed to 8pm the previous night), all I wanted to do was lay down some where. But then the girls started chanting my name as I walked in the door (who doesn’t love a good name chant?). And so before I knew it I was chanting with them, Riley was climbing on my back, and London was walking towards my outstretched arms wanting to dance.
Usually when I get home, particularly from a day of “conferencing” where I’ve been out of pocket via emails there’s a lot of backlog of things to follow up with. Not wanting to take time away from the family, but also not wanting to leave so many things undone, I tried to split the difference and do both. As Samantha prepared everyone’s plates and set the table, I was in my office frantically sending a few follow up emails and making a phone call. When it became clear that I would have to determine a stopping point (because there likely wasn’t going to be a natural one), one presented itself to me in the form of London wondering into the kitchen asking for apple juice and my wife yelling out, where’s your father? Oops. I guess i was supposed to be at the table by then. So I closed everything down and joined the family.
Later after dinner we went up the street to the park to swing on the swings and eat freeze pops. It was literally the perfect ending to a great day. Still swimming in my head were the events of the day, though not my usual checklist of what needs to be done next to follow up and keep the momentum going. Instead, as I sat on the slide next to my wife asking me questions about the day, I started to realize that I’m actually happy where I am, satisfied with the work I’m doing, and at peace with the current pace of my career. It’s a hard admission for me because I’m so used to measuring my career by promotions or comparison to others. Additionally, for a while it felt like an act of betrayal to my former work and team to fully embrace the work I’ve been doing directly in south fulton. But, times change. I’ve grown. I’m realizing now that what I experienced before professionally has prepared me for the season of professional impact that I’m in now.
Life was sweet today, and that’s worth celebrating. Just like during the inevitable times where life turns bitter, it’ll be worth thanking God for the opportunity to learn and grow, knowing that it’ll prepare me for future sweet moments like today.