In my younger days, I was a lacrosse goalie. I loved the challenge of being goalie, the pressure of trying to make a crucial save. What I didn’t like was being hit by the ball. In lacrosse, goalies do not wear much padding because they often have to run with the ball far down the field and can’t be weighed down by lots of pads. So, getting hit by the hard rubber lacrosse ball was particularly painful. And it happened constantly! I can remember many times taking point-blank shots in unmentionable places and thinking, “just don’t get up!” Each time, after an appropriate amount of writhing, I would get up, get back in the goal, and subject myself to further torture.
Perhaps this is where I came up with the idea to adopt Churchill’s famous saying, “Never, never give up” as our family motto. The motto has served our family well. Life consistently delivers blows that knock us down viciously. One of my favorite verses in Proverbs is “though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” (Prov. 24:16) What strikes me is that the difference between the “righteous” and the “wicked” is not getting knocked down (they both get knocked down), but getting up. Getting up seven times! In the Bible, seven is a number signifying completion. In other words, keep on getting up!
Getting up is easier said than done. Certain seasons of life pound us relentlessly. What are practical ways you can become a person who persists in getting up when every bone in your body is crying out stay down?
- Be determined to become a “never give up” person– I have made it part of my identity to become a “never give up” person. Asserting that identity helps me when I am prone to give up. Even when I fall short, my claimed identity gets me up the next time to be the person who perseveres.
- Rise to your knees– When I was knocked down as a goalie, sometimes I would pop right back up, and other times I would roll over and get up slowly to my hands and knees. In the most difficult of times, getting out of bed is a victory; going to work is a major accomplishment. Be encouraged! Small triumphs are often the hardest; small triumphs beget large triumphs.
- Catch your breath first– Nothing says you have to get up right away. It hurts to get knocked down. Sometimes we need to go slowly. Pain takes time to heal. Grief does not go away quickly. Depression grabs on tightly and won’t let go without a fight. Take whatever time is needed. No rush. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually, when the time is right, get up.
- Get someone else to help you up– Getting up is not about being heroic. Getting up is about surviving. We need others to survive. We were not meant to go it alone. Pride will falsely urge us to tough it out on our own. Resist the temptation! Reach out and get a friend or a counselor to help you get up.
- Just do your best– Even when we keep on persevering, sometimes our efforts are not enough. We control much less of life than we would like to admit. When our very best still falls short, be at peace. God is bigger than all of the worst circumstances put together, and He is good. Trust Him!