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Less Visible Doesn’t Make You Less Valuable

February 8, 2021

This week I posted some quotes on FaceBook that resonated with my audience. Here’s the first quote.

"I need to get back in shape, but I'm kind of waiting to see if the world is going to end before I put any real effort in."

Sound familiar? Here's another posting.

"I spend a lot of time holding the refrigerator door open, looking for answers."

And this quote hit the mark.
"They say we can have gatherings with up to eight people without issues. I don't even know eight people without issues." Amen.

It’s easy or even normal to feel this way. May I suggest an alternative? Begin your day with an “I get to” mentality instead of an “I have to” mentality. “I get to go to work. I get to have a busy day. I get to serve others.” Whatever it may be. Often, we dress our opportunities as stress. But what is causing our tension is often a blessing in disguise.

John Philips wrote, “The psychologist says, ‘Look within.’ The opportunist says, ‘Look around.’ The optimist says, ‘Look ahead.’ The pessimist says, ‘Look out!’ God says, ‘Look up!’” Patience is the art of finding out something else to do that is positive in the meantime. Perspective is the way we see things. Think about this. All of us live under the same sky, but not all of us see the same horizon. In other words, we rarely see what we are not looking for. Is it “I have to, or I get to?”

I love real-life testimonies that inspire people. Here is an example of someone you most likely have never heard of who did something unique. This couple found something to do in the meantime that came from a mentality of “I get to, not I have to.” This invisible couple parented a seven-year-old boy who became visible worldwide. What’s the lesson here? Being less visible doesn’t make you less valuable.

Here is a part of the couple’s and a boy’s life story. And the rest is history.  

A grandson of slaves, a boy was born in a poor New Orleans neighborhood known as the "Back of Town." His father abandoned the family when the child was an infant. His mother became a prostitute, and the boy and his sister lived with their grandmother.

Early in life, he proved to be gifted for music, and with three other kids, he sang in New Orleans's streets. His first gains were the coins people threw at them.

With the last name of Karnofsky, a Jewish family who had emigrated from Lithuania to the United States pitied the 7-year-old boy and brought him into their home. Initially, they gave the boy ‘work’ in their house. But the 'work' was just an excuse to feed the hungry child. He stayed there and slept in this Jewish family's home, where they treated him with kindness and tenderness for one of the first times in his life.

When he went to bed, Mrs. Karnovsky sang him a Russian lullaby that he would sing with her. Later, he learned to sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs. Over time, this boy became like an adopted son of this family.

The Karnofsky’s gave him money to buy his first musical instrument, as was the custom in the Jewish families. They admired his musical talent. Later, when he became a professional musician and composer, he used Jewish melodies in some of his compositions.

The young black boy grew up and wrote a book about the Jewish family who had adopted him in 1907. In memory of this family, he wore a Star of David until the end of his life.  He said that from this family, he had learned "how to live real life and determination."

You might recognize his name. He was Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. "Satchmo" is Yiddish for "big cheeks," a nickname some say was given to him by Mrs. Karnofsky. He proudly spoke fluent Yiddish.

Here’s a takeaway for you concerning “Satchmo.” If you fix the boy, you will fix the man. A fixed man can fix the land. Of course, the same is true for women. Fixed people fix people. Changed people change people. No one can fix everyone, but we can help fix someone. The poor immigrant couple stepped into a boy’s situation. They committed to a long process of fixing up a 'fixer-upper' and changed the world. Maybe in these 'refrigerator staring times,' you could choose to be a 'Solutionary.'

Let's review John Philips's quote from this story. The Karnofsky’s 'looked around' and recognized a boy in need. The Karnofsky’s thought to themselves, 'look-out.'  If he stays where he is, he will never reach his potential. Then they ‘looked in’ themselves and said, “We get to.” The Karnofsky’s ‘looked ahead’ and became what the boy needed, parents. Where did they get the strength to do all of this? The Karnofsky's knew God who says, "Look up! We can do this together."

Ratan Tata, an industrialist from India, noted, "None can destroy iron, but its own rust can. Likewise, none can destroy a person, but his mindset can!" Are you looking for something to do in the meantime? Choose it and remember, "You don't have to, you get to!"

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com