Broken noses, mangled plans and perseverance

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“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson.

I believe most reading can identify in at least a small way with the quote above. If you have ever been hit so hard that you don’t know if you will be on your feet again then you probably understand completely. Hits come in many forms in life and can interrupt even the best of our plans.

I have not taken a hit from a professional boxer, but I have had my nose bloodied a time or two.  My list including the vicious hit delivered by my brother during a pickup football game; that an episode that ended with me being hurried to the emergency room having suffered a deviated septum.  I had caught a lateral pass, turned, then *WHAM* a shoulder smashed into my head and suddenly I am on the ground (still clutching the ball) dizzy wondering where all the blood was coming from. That day my immediate plans were altered as severely as my visibly mangled nose.

Everyone has hopes, dreams or plans and success does often depend on hard work, discipline and execution of a plan.  However, planning is easy but real life isn’t always and the truer test of resolve is when an effort is met with a unexpected and disorienting blow.  It takes courage and strength to stand back up again, after looking at the lights above the ring, having been knocked flat on your back.  Our plans and the realities we will face can be vastly different things.  I believe most people who live long enough will experience times where perseverance requires overcoming obstacles of pain, loss and fear.

I have withstood many setbacks or small disappointments in life and have usually been able to keep a positive attitude about it.  I have built up a tolerance for physical pain. But there are other types of injury other than physical that do not heal in weeks or months and those are the real trials of my faith.  There have been a few moments in my life where it seemed as if all hope was sucked from my soul and faith was nearly impossible.  It is only, by the grace of God, with the help of good friends that I have made it this far.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one.  The death of a close friend’s child was on of the hardest hits of my life.  I felt totally helpless, I could do nothing to ‘fix’ the situation for my friend and my heartache lasted for years after. My hopes and plans built around that child died on a Thursday afternoon with a piece of me.  I got out of bed each morning, some days better and other days worse, but down inside was a deep pain of heart that I could not solve.

I have found peace for the questions that raged inside after the death.  Still, there are scars for each battle I have faced and some circumstances remain that I have no clear answer for.  It can be easy to be discouraged when past experiences haunt you and is tempting to give up when overwhelmed by an opponent seemingly too big or powerful to defeat.  Each blow is different, every day of overcoming is a new battle and each one requires new courage and fresh resolve.  We can only pray for the wisdom and for sufficient provision of hope to get through each day.

We all have obstacles to face, blows to our confidence and our faith to overcome. Things like a cancer diagnosis, the agony of a rejection, or death can continue to trip us up spiritually or emotionally and sometimes for years.  It is in those moments where character is formed; one can become bitter, cynical or jaded and otherwise defeated by the odds against them, or one can also keep faith alive, believe tomorrow will be a better day and live to overcome.

Real strength is not quitting when a harsh reality smacks you in the face. Faith begins when it seems like giants stand in the way of promises for a future and when hope feels quite delusional.  Plans change, life hits us in the face, but with God all things are possible, so do not wallow in despair; regroup and get back in the fight.

Life and faith require perseverance. That, and some appropriate protective gear may also help as well, and especially if you are up against Mike Tyson or younger brothers.

Take care!