“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.” Nelson Mandela
What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?
We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.
There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.
The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!
The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.
When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.
While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.