Twenty years ago, the mother of one of my favorite students, called me at school and said she’d like to talk to me about her daughter. An hour later, we were both crying and praying for this troubled teen. I saw so much of myself in Pam that it brought back all the old memories again – and I shared my past with her Mom. What an encouragement we can be to others going through one of life’s trials, when we can allow them to see the “before/after” of a life truly changed.
Today, that mother of Pam sat with her husband in front of us at church. The reason is because they were attending the “dedication” of Pam and her husband Ken’s two little girls, Sarah and Molly. After the beautiful service, we went to their house for brunch and celebration. Yes, we reminisced about those trying teen years, when we didn’t know if Pam was going to make it! Not only has she made it, she is a teacher now helping other young people just as I had the opportunity to do. What a blessing and fulfilling affirmation to see the result of a mother’s tears and prayers and faith that Pam would make it – just as my mother had done for me. Every time I speak at an event and my 88 year-old parents are with me, everyone wants to talk to them to see how they made it all those years! Pam’s mother and father still say it was worth it all when they have two of the most beautiful little granddaughters.
If you are like I am, you may have made a declaration “to change” a certain aspect of your life a thousand times before, and when you are truly dedicated, you usually succeed. I love the word itself as Mr. Webster defines it: “devoted to a cause, ideal or purpose; to set aside for sacred use.” He gives a synonym of zealous. When I think of all the things in my past I have thought I was dedicated to, I think it was more of a wish list. Whether it was the decision to lose weight, look for a new job, get more sleep, exercise, spend more time with family, or numerous other things, we only do what is really important enough to us to make a change. Pam and Ken and the girls have been coming to church with us for a year now, and today’s dedication was really important to them – and to all of us! But I believe sincerely that no matter how much you wish and dream and think about changing, you have to be truly ready to dedicate your time, emotions, money and even yourself toward that very thing.
If you are at a place in your life where you seem to have no motivation or determination left, or if you have been falling on your face before God in desperation because you have no other options left, it doesn’t matter. If you decide something is really worth devoting yourself to doing, and if you are willing to be made willing, to receive help in actually putting action to your desires you have to believe it can be accomplished! That is faith – not just hopes and thoughts and dreams, but real substance with planning, implementing and letting others who have gone before you help and inspire you! Preparation is half the battle, but soon you still need dedication, perseverance and faith.
In the story of David and Goliath, David was a child and Goliath was a huge giant of a man who had killed hundreds of other “giants.” Little David was not successful because he was a great warrior, experienced or even just determined. He was confident because he had already dedicated himself to God. David could envision what God wanted and listened constantly to that “still small voice”. He didn’t wear the battle gear of others though they urged him to do so, or even choose the same weapons. He was unique and individual in his approach, as it was given to him by the One to whom he was dedicated. His brothers and King Saul had tried to dissuade this young shepherd boy from even facing Goliath. But we are told of his dedication and constant listening to God. When you know that you know that you know you are meant to do something and you are dedicated to seeing it fulfilled, it doesn’t matter what obstacles or challenges go before you.
We can’t keep doing the same old thing and expecting different results, but if you want what you’ve never had, you have to do what you’ve never done. Find somebody who is successful at what you hope or dream of, and accept their help as you dedicate yourself to the goal. Pam’s mom reached out to me twenty years ago because I had been such a troubled teenager myself. We had no idea Pam would also become a teacher and end up helping others. But we had faith, we set goals, we had plans and we were dedicated.
My husband and I often meet with our Pastor and his wife when we are at a crossroads for decision-making in our business or personal life. There is also nothing wrong with seeking advice and counsel from friends and professionals. But check their own lives and lifestyles and make sure they are successful, or it will just be the blind leading the blind! And they make take you over a bigger cliff.
Be sure to look for confirmation both in open as well as closed doors. I never want to settle for mediocre when I could have had the best! I have fallen for “fool’s gold” too many times, and I am ready for the real deal. I want to achieve and be the best I can be – and help others along the road. I told God a long time ago to take me out of my comfort zone and even out of what I thought was best for me
at the time. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I am so thankful I didn’t go on the path I wanted as a teenager; I am so glad I didn’t marry that first guy I thought I couldn’t live without; I am grateful I didn’t pursue the first job I could have had; and I thank God for a new chance and new beginning every day of my life. Dedication – what a great preface to Thanksgiving.
Debra Peppers, a professional speaker for 25 years, was one of only five inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame upon her retirement from Lindbergh High School. A member of the National Speakers Association, she has traveled to all 50 states and 60 countries teaching others that if she can go from being a 250-pound high school dropout, to Teacher of the Year there is hope for every child and adult. For info, visit www.pepperseed.org