We all go through it: a time of discouragement, doubt, hopelessness.
Lately, I’ve been going through it. Feeling discouraged. Doubting my purpose: forming this nonprofit, The PEACH Pit, offering equine-assisted counseling sessions at no cost or and low-cost to our clients.
Having a nonprofit is hard and sometimes thankless work.
Applying for grant after grant, planning fundraiser after fundraiser. Receiving one rejection letter after another about how noble is our cause but how other causes are equally noble and will receive the grant money we sought.
I’ve long known that my least favorite word is “no.” My favorite word is “free.” I don’t mind asking for what I want, and I know that the answer sometimes will be no.
Sometimes, often, the answer is yes. The Combined Federal Campaign. Volunteers. Corporate employee donations and corporate employer matching funds.
People care. They recognize good. They give.
Applying for grant money for our nonprofit reminds me of applying for graduate school fellowships. I applied for four fellowships. The first two responses were one-pagers: Something like, “We’ve received so many great applications, which made our decision difficult. Unfortunately, your application was not selected.”
Two responses with my least favorite word.
On a snowy Friday night, a day with no expectation of good, came my favorite word, with the notification I was to receive a fellowship. I needed to respond, even as I waited to hear from my top choice. I accepted and within a week, received a letter from my top choice with my least favorite word.
As I headed home from a bicycle ride the other night, having enjoyed the mild temperatures after the heavy rains, I spotted what looked like a piece of blue construction paper on the ground.
Litter. Another word I dislike.
I rode past it and then turned around to pick up the paper. Trusting my gut that it was a sign of hope. The paper was damp. I held it in my left hand until I got home.
In all likelihood, a child drew the picture, a child whose age is still in the single digits, probably the lower ones. Just when I felt discouraged, I found this elementary school piece of art.
The message I got from it was astoundingly hopeful.
In the midst of life’s twists and turns – and life is full of twists and turns, as the picture shows – there’s love. And even in the midst of love are twists and turns.
But love is bigger than everything, if we keep it in the center of our life’s purpose. Then, we will have hope and encouragement.