Do not “give up” or “lose heart” (Luke 18:1)
I ran just 2 marathons during my running career. My fastest was 3 hours and 18 minutes-not very fast, but fast enough to beat over 400 other runners. The key was to never give or lose heart. There were days when I simply did not want to run–either from fatigue or injury or just plain laziness. But instead, I never gave up and accomplished something I never thought I could. This was a choice I made for something I wanted to do.
I’ve found over the years, however, that I’ve been challenged by a number of difficult circumstances that I never asked for or wanted to experience. I’m sure each of you have had similar experiences. When hit by these difficult times, I have found myself becoming “gun-shy” about picking myself up to get by them.
First, understand that I am not by nature not very gregarious. I am an introvert. I like my friends singly and in groups, but I have no compulsive need to have others around me all the time. In fact, give me a good book, some art supplies or some music and I can vanish from everyone else’s life for hours. Unfortunately, this does not help when I’m struggling with something.
There have been a few times in my life when a situation has knocked me flat. Some were of my own making. Others were brought on by others. Still others just happened. I didn’t ask to have a heart attack; it just happened. I didn’t ask to have a negative reaction to a medication; it just happened. You just have to “suck it up” and deal with it. The ones of my own making can be humbling, embarrassing and sometimes hurtful to others. For these I’ve had to apologize and make things right. When humbled or embarrassed, I’ve simply had to get over myself. The world doesn’t revolve around me and my feelings.
The tough ones, though, have been those problems caused by others–the ones that change how you feel about yourself, change the direction of your life and then continue to re-insert themselves into your life when you’re least prepared to deal with them. Fortunately, these kind of problems don’t come around too often. I was once accused of something I never did. Though everyone who knew me knew the accusation was false, the accusation remained. And, with people being people, this accusation was kept alive by others for years and years. Their belief was “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And over the years, they created a lot of “smoke.” This wasn’t a case of just dealing with something or simply getting over myself. Thankfully, I came to realize that there is absolutely nothing that I could to do to eliminate the accusation or the accuser. And my negative feelings about them never hurt them. They only hurt me. So the only thing I could do to save myself a lot of lasting pain was to forgive them and move on-hard though that was.
This was one of those times where it was good to ignore my introversion and have others around me. Their prayers and encouragement were what kept me going. It took years, but life became good again.