Paying Dues: Your Dues Ain’t Like Mine
If you read Part I (or even my book), you understand the need to pay dues when pursuing our hopes and dreams. In mentioning that God determines when our dues have been paid, I alluded to the fact that dues are not one-size-fits-all. This point was later driven home as I watched the History Channel’s adaptation of The Bible.
Just before Samson came on the scene and got entangled in a destructive relationship with Delilah, we glimpsed the story behind his conception. When his mother was barren, an angel told her that she would have a son. But this bearer of good news also gave some instructions: she must abstain from wine or strong drink, and not eat any unclean thing. (Judges 13:4)
That’s a stringent order. Especially considering that women conceive every day with what seem to be no strings attached. But because Samson’s mother had not fallen into the trap of thinking she had a “right” to certain blessings, she took it all in stride. Following instructions, she gave birth to baby boy. I, on the other hand, curious writer that I am, wondered what it must feel like to be given such strict orders to get what others seemingly acquired for “free.”
I have witnessed gifted individuals scratch their heads in wonderment at the success of less talented people. I personally have looked at some brilliant folks and wondered why the world didn’t fawn over them as it did some average Joes. And while I try not to give petty Sheryl much shine, occasionally I read, and re-read, some popular writer’s work just to comprehend the content, let alone understand the hype. It’s easy to go there, to that spoiled, whiny, comparative mentality of “this ain’t fair.”
So I wondered: how did Samson’s mother manage not to go there? I haven’t talked to her, but as I re-read the text with this in mind, I thought perhaps a few things helped her await her son:
She viewed the child as a blessing. Just because we see something in abundance throughout the world doesn’t make it any less incredible. Samson’s mother likely saw countless children in her community. One could see how she’d think ‘everyone has one so I should too.’ However, the prevalence of children does not nullify the preciousness of each individual child. A blessing is just that, whether you’re in a time of famine or fortune. And when you view something as a blessing, you’re not concerned with whether someone deserves theirs, because you realize that it cannot be earned. It’s the difference between being hopeful and feeling entitled.
She held on to the promise. The angel told her that she would have a child – but not just any child. Her son would save the people. He would “take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” She was paying dues not only to have a child, but for who that child would become. What are you paying dues for? If you want your dream to have tremendous impact, to be set apart from others, expect your dues to be expensive. But when you know that it is first a blessing to you and secondly a blessing to the world, like Samson’s mother, you won’t mind paying.
She knew how it felt to be barren. The Bible doesn’t say how long Samson’s mother went without children. However, the fact that she was labeled ‘barren’ suggests a considerable amount of time. I believe her heart ached every time she heard the pitter patter of tiny feet and whenever she heard a child erupt into laughter. She probably hugged the neighborhood kids extra tight, her heart like a sponge soaking up their love. When you’ve gone without something for any real period of time, when you’ve yearned for it with every fiber of your being, you’ll work for it. I don’t know that God could have given a woman with five children the promise He gave Samson’s mother. Would the average woman who already had kids at home want one badly enough to keep His commands? And even if she did, would she do so with a cheerful heart? Steve Jobs once told graduates “stay hungry, stay foolish.” Because you’ll lay down your pride when you’re starving – and sometimes that’s what it takes to succeed.
Don’t try to circumvent your process. Take a lesson from Samson’s mom. If you want to birth a tailor-fit blessing of great impact, be prepared to pay whatever dues are specific to you. Then trust and believe it will be worth it.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area. A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.