Maybe you have never heard of Hayes Jones? He was a high hurdle runner that broke all the records scholastically, made the Olympic Team in Rome in 1959, and the eyes of the world were upon him. He was believed to be the greatest there ever was in this event. He trained vigorously for it, and when he arrived, most everyone back home believed he would take home the Gold Medal! He didn’t. He came in 3rd. He was discouraged, felt like quitting, told himself he should just get out of athletics and go into his business career. It was a turning point in his life. It was the logical, sensible thing to do. After all, the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo were four years away! How could he put himself through the grueling training that he knew he would have to do in order to compete. He decided that he hadn’t had this life long dream just to quit because of a defeat. He made his mind up and started training. He trained, he worked and fought to keep his body and mind in top shape, preparing for the next Olympics.
Before the Olympics he attended a national championship in Madison Square Garden, and ended up winning first place, and tied his own record he had recorded earlier. He was ready! The Olympics came, and he fulfilled his life long dream! He won the Gold Medal!
What would his life have been like if he had succumbed to the doubts after coming in 3rd place? How much confidence in himself would he have had if he had just thrown in the towel, and said: “Enough!” No, he didn’t have to live with that kind of regret. He stuck with it, and his faith in his God given ability grew big enough to put him into the winner’s circle at the top of the world. What a contrast!
We have all been faced with similar situations. We have come up against circumstances that have tempted us to give in and quit. I, myself have known this many times in my life. I went out for football in the 10th grade at Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas. My Aunt Minnie drove me to practice (I had missed the bus to the practice field) and when I got to the field, all suited up, the coach said: “Halbert, you’re late!” I apologized and he promptly had me run around the track at the field twice. I was not in good shape, and was totally out of breath when I arrived, huffing and puffing, practically fainting from the two laps around the field with full gear on. The coach told me to get on the line, and block out this certain lineman who was much bigger, much more fit, and much more experienced at full body contact sports than I was. You can guess what happened! He rolled me up like a tortilla under a rolling pin! I picked myself up, turned around toward the club house, and walked home. That was the end of my not so illustrious football career. I quit. Well, you may have been looking for a triumphant ending to this story…..not gonna happen. I wasn’t made for football. There was something else that I was supposed to do. But my point is…..if you know you are supposed to do something, then do it. Keep trying until you find what you’re supposed to do, and do it with abandon! At that time in my life, at 15 years old, I never knew that I would some day travel to almost 20 countries, learn to speak Spanish and Portuguese, write hundreds of songs, and learn about other cultures, and enhance my life like I had never dreamed. My “thing” wasn’t football, but when I found out what it was, I did it with my whole heart. But that’s another story.
You may be like Hayes Jones in some way. You may be feeling like it’s time to quit, but if you kept going with whatever it was that you knew you should be doing, you would eventually make it to the place you were supposed to be! There’s a champion in every one of us waiting to be discovered. It may be that you’re supposed to be a Teacher, helping kids to learn…..it may be that you have ideas that will help others and improve their lives in some ways. You may be a fledgling artist or musician trying to find your niche. Whatever it is, if you believe in yourself, and believe that’s what God put you on the earth to do, then Do it! Don’t give up! The person you become by pursuing your goals in life is the most important part. Dr. Peale wrote a little book called: “You Can if you Think You Can!” That is so true! It all depends on how you program your own mind to see your future. If you use words like: “can’t” , “difficult”, “not possible”, etc., then you are training your mind and character to accept these words as your own. But don’t let those words be your guide. Start using words like: “Can”, “no problem”, and “of course!” It will soon become a habit, and will shape your thinking to become what God intended for you to be!
“Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.” (Edmund Burke)