“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.’”
—Mary Anne Radmacher
Everything we do matters in the present moment; it also serves as an investment in our future. Even the smallest move in the right direction deserves celebration… but what constitutes the “right” direction is for us to decide for ourselves.
I learned this one day after my son’s occupational therapy appointment, when we went to lunch and I asked if he wanted mac and cheese. He excitedly agreed.
My son is nearly three and has several sensory processing difficulties, one of which is extreme pickiness. I had fleeting hopes—high hopes—that he would actually eat his lunch. I was also unsurprised when the lauded mac and cheese arrived and he refused it.
After several moments of prompting, I convinced him to taste a small bit of the sauce, but that was all he could handle. He gagged and coughed, so I decided that was enough for the day and got him a bagel instead.
I could (and briefly did) choose to define failure by the uneaten $5 portion of mac and cheese. Instead, I chose to define “success” by the fact that he tried it without his gagging turning into a more colorful outcome.
Often, my need for answers and stability tricks me into believing that there’s only one right or wrong way to be. When I internalize cultural messages about the definitions of success or failure—or anything, really—I undermine my own sense of self-worth. We all undermine our right to self-determination by allowing someone else or society to decide something that we should be free to decide for ourselves.
Am I grumpy that I spent five dollars on mac and cheese that didn’t get eaten? A little bit. And I’m also proud of my son for trying it, and thankful that I had five dollars to invest in another small step toward him becoming a more willing eater.
Gentleness in our judgment of ourselves and others is an investment in grace, which we can then share with our fellow travelers. In a world that would have us rigidly define success, failure, and anything in between, we could all use a little grace.
Patience, may we remember that the journey is just as crucial as the destination, for upon the journey we learn what must be done once we arrive. May our journeys prepare us for what awaits, and may we be met with kindness along the way.