“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again …”
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” Confucius
There’s a well known story in the Bible – the miraculous healing of the woman with the issue of blood. For twelve years she’d been bleeding and had spent all of her money going to doctors, trying to find the cure for her illness. The Bible does not tell us for certain what her life was like, but she very well may have been an outcast because of her condition. I imagine being sick for so long would have taken its toll on her relationships and social life, as well as on her pocketbook. Even though her condition worsened, she persisted in looking for a cure. One day, she heard about Jesus and decided that she would try, yet again, to be healed. She knew that it would be impossible to gain an audience with him because of the crowd, so she thought to herself: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” And so she did. And so she was. (Mark 5:25-34) It occurred to me today – why didn’t she just give up?
When I was in the throes of divorce, my main concern was – how will I take care of my children? So I came up with a plan to work, work, work. I knew it would be a challenge but I was determined to make it. So I embarked upon this great plan – to become a realtor, then a loan officer and even a tax preparer. Oh, it was a GREAT plan! One calculated to take care of my family and also remove the stain of divorce. By my success, I would be justified. I put a lot of faith in that plan. It had to work. I had to believe it would work. I had to have something for me and my kids to look forward to. It was my silver lining and it would make all well.
It wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed by all I had set out to do. I had obtained my real estate license, was working as a loan processor for a mortgage company and taking classes at night to become a tax preparer. I would come home at the end of a long day, grab the kids and dinner, drop them off at my sister’s house and then go to class. That was on top of using my hour long lunch to drive home every day and pick my kids up from school to ensure they got home safely. Finally, one day it all came crashing down, brought on by – of all things – my son not doing his chores. After yelling at him and completely going off the deep end, I realized I’d overreacted. I collapsed in the chair and (to my shame) began to cry in front of the kids. Who was I kidding? This was not going to work. No way could I possibly do all that I had set out to do. Realizing I needed a break from the hectic pace I set for myself, I allowed myself this breakdown. I told the kids to take off their coats, knowing that I was in no shape to take on the world that day.
After watching me wallow for a few minutes, my daughter calmly said to me, “Mama, get up.” “No.” I said. “Just forget it – we’re not going anywhere!” It was just too hard. I was having a real pity party. She said, “Get up and put your coat on. We have to go. If you don’t get up now, you’ll never get up.” That made me pause. It sounded like something I could have said. And, it was a very real possibility. Then my son added, “Yeah, Mama. It’s just like Pastor Singleton was preaching on Sunday. ‘When there’s much at stake, it’s whatever it takes’. And, Mama – there’s a lot at stake so you gotta do whatever it takes.” My tears dried up as I considered that. For my children’s sake, I got up, washed my face, put on my coat and we walked out the door. I have amazing kids.
If I had to do it all over again, I would still not want to go through that. But I cannot deny that the divorce was actually a good thing for my personal growth. Had I not gotten divorced, I would have never known I had that resilience in me; that ability to get back up again, no matter how many times I was faced with certain defeat. Because of my children, giving up was not an option. I looked back at my life and saw the pattern: I got up after every disappointment, brushed the dust off my backside and moved on. Sometimes able to conquer that very challenge and other times, moving on to something better. My counselor asked me once, “Where does that come from?” I could only answer, “From God”.
It is God who has given us the will to persevere, to survive, to strive, to not give up. I searched for a phrase in my mind that would cover all of these traits and infuse them with meaning and it came to me: the indomitable human spirit. It’s in all of us. It’s that part of us that keeps getting up, keeps trying because we know that to give up is to perish altogether. And we all have a different trigger. Anything, any event or any person can trigger that instinct for survival. For me, it was my kids. I found that while I wouldn’t fight for myself, for them, I would wrestle an angry bear! I don’t know what motivated the woman with the issue of blood but whatever it was, it was powerful enough that she would not give up without a fight.
I try to retain my optimism and belief that good things will eventually come my way. So, while I am given to dark periods of depression as the next person, it cannot last for long. I get back up because I can’t give up. I get up because failure is not an option. I get up because I have no choice. I get up because I am determined to live and declare the works of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17) And I get up with the knowledge that every time I do so, I rise stronger.