I think its safe to say that all of us have trials in our lives... or at minimum obstacles that we must overcome. Sometimes those obstacles are ones we've set in place ourselves and other times they exist despite our best wishes that they didn't. Life can get down-right hard sometimes and at points it can even seem unfair. But, as I learned from my nine year old the other day, there is nothing gained by simply giving up.
I know as parents we sometimes tend to see ourselves as the teachers and our children as the students, but more often than not, I find the opposite to be true. Maybe I've just been blessed with amazing kids (okay, I'm going to gloat, there's no "maybe" about it: my children are incredible... and the best part is, they just came that way!). But, my kids aren't alone. Children, without knowing they are doing it, have the ability to teach us if we will but humble ourselves enough to let them.
Poised to move quick and take the other down, two boys squared off on the wrestling mat. With intense eyes and serious dispositions, they stared at each other, neither showing a glimmer of fear or an ounce of conceit. And then, the whistle blew and the dance started. Though equally matched in height and age, one held an obvious advantage over the other. With an extra 20 pounds of girth,one boy was size-ably larger than his scrawny little counterpart. From the sidelines there was already a clear winner. But, to the boys, that advantage was less clear.
It didn't take long for the larger boy to take the skinny one down. It was a pure matter of physics as Goliath's take-down technique was nothing short of a belly-flop. As a parent, I sat on the sidelines cheering for my scrawny son, praying he didn't get hurt, and hoping for a positive outcome.
Certainly I could have called the match and saved my tall, skinny beanpole from three rounds of Goliath's smashing, but as I watched, I sensed that something greater was happening than a simple little-league wresting match.
I watched my 70lb giant take on his Goliath-sized opponent with determination and skill. He could have rolled over and let himself get pinned and nobody would have faulted him for doing so. But he fought... and he fought hard! He knew how to maneuver his way around, and despite the other kid's sizable weight advantage, used all of the strength, wisdom, and determination that he could muster to try to gain the advantage. Every time my little giant would manage his way out from under the weight of his opponent, he'd regain his footing just in time to be belly-flopped to the mat again. His nose was red from the impact; his ribs sore from the pounding... and yet, he continued to fight. For three heart-wrenching rounds I knelt on the side of the pad holding my breath with each smashing.
At the final whistle blow, I let out a sigh of relief that the pounding was finally over. The referee raised Goliath's hand in victory and all I could do was contain myself from throwing my arms around my son (which for the record is a serious "no, no" for mom's at little league events.) I learned more than I ever wanted to know about enduring to the end and his lesson on persevering against the odds spoke volumes, but that's not where the lesson ended.
As soon as the referee dropped Goliath's victorious hand, my son reached for it and with a smile on his face, thanked his tormentor for the match. If I wasn't already near tears by that point, his final act of humanity about pushed me over the edge.
He may not have won the match, but that didn't mean he was defeated! A lesser boy could have simply walked away with his smashed pride, but my tender nine-year old showed what it was like to be a gracious looser... And he took what he learned in that match to improve himself. Rather than wallowing in broken pride (and smashed ribs), he evaluated his weaknesses as well as his strengths and determined to prepare himself for future Goliath's.
And my point... because, yes, I did have a point to sharing this, is:
Never give up! Life is hard and sometimes we are unfairly matched against our own Goliath's, but that doesn't mean that we have to let them defeat us. Our challenges might be tough, but when we get to the end of the "match" hopefully we haven't just rolled over and let ourselves get pinned. Hopefully, we fight with all the wisdom, skill, perseverance and faith that we can muster! And when the challenge is over, hopefully we can find the value in it and grow from the experience.