Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big fan of college football and basketball, specifically Big Twelve sports, but lacking that, I have been known to watch any college level sport activity during the fall and winter months. I love the teamwork, the camaraderie, the strength, and the perseverance shown by the kids and their coaches. They don't quit (well, not a lot, anyway). Today will be the final regular season game for my teams before the tournament play begins next week. My favorite team was counted out a few weeks ago. Nobody, including me, thought they could pull it together and finish the season with a winning record. They not only have done that but, in all likelihood they will finish the Big Twelve tournament strong and enter the NCAA tournament with a pretty good ranking. Amazing!!
How does this happen? EVERYBODY counted them out for this year and yet they found a way. They didn't fight amongst themselves. They didn't give up. They all kept trying. The coaches regrouped and found a better offense and defense for them to play. The kids worked hard to learn what the coaches were telling them. The fans kept showing up to support their efforts. Even the press, who had dogged them mercilessly, came around to support them.
I think there is a lesson here for all of us in our own lives. Life can throw some pretty messy stuff our direction. It is entirely up to us what we do with it. We all have a choice: we can let that stuff stick to us and make each day harder to get through. We can choose to let it label us and live down to that label. Or...we can choose to wash it off; to know that we will not identify with that stuff. Just because it happened, just because someone threw it at us, doesn't mean it defines us. We are better than that, and we choose to live our lives reflecting that grace.
I am grateful that I learned this lesson in my youth. Those early years are the toughest for most of us. It is in these years that so many of life's lessons are learned; all of those "firsts" that leave an indelible impression on our spirits. Hopefully, for most of us, those lessons have been more positive than negative. We got them the first time or two. For some of us, it takes a little longer and we will have to be confronted with those same lessons again and again until we get them. Regardless, we can't give up.
Like my basketball team, we have to keep trying new things. We have to keep believing in ourselves, even when no one else does. We have to know that God Doesn't Make Junk! Maybe there is someone today who needs to know that you believe in them, even when they don't. Maybe there is a neighbor who really needs a kind word or an elderly friend who could just use a little of your time. Find someone today, support them. Let them know that we won't let them quit, because quitters never win!