If you’ve ever been close to giving up when life gets tough, this post is for you. I like to think of myself as a pretty resilient guy after all that I have been through but being resilient only gets you so far in life. Being resilient allows you to bounce back and withstand a beating but it’s not enough to survive the world we live in. You must surround yourself with good people who will pick you back up, dust you off and give you the strength to persevere. I wouldn’t trade my life for the world but everyone has their breaking point. I can’t count the times in my life when I have been beaten down so hard by life that I genuinely questioned my ability to get back up. When God throws an obstacle into my life, rarely does it come alone. Typically, one obstacle is followed by another which often makes me feel like I’m drowning.
As hard as I fight, life often fights harder. I wish I could attribute my success and resiliency to something heroic like personal courage or dedication, but that’s simply not the case. It wasn’t until after I was stationed in Germany and met my SSG Stanford (Stan) that I came to realize how I had made it through life’s toughest moments.
Some of the toughest moments of my life were overseas away from my family. I struggled but I never gave up because I had people to look up to like Stan. I told myself, “When Stan quits, I’ll quit” but it never happened. No matter where we were or how bad things were, he was my external motivator. He never gave up. He gave every ounce of himself to every second he was alive and it was contagious. I didn’t have to hang on for myself anymore, I began living for others without even realizing it.
A few days before Stan passed away, he told me five words I will never forget while we were about six miles into a 10 mile run. I was seconds from quitting when he looked at me and said, “If I fight, you fight”. It was his way of saying, if I keep going than so do you and that’s exactly what I did. I felt invincible. I felt a second wind and that’s truly the moment when I realized that it’s easier to quit on yourself than it is to quit on those who rely on you.
When you live your life for selfish reasons, the hardest parts of life are even harder because you have no external motivation. When Stan died, I took it upon myself to be the one others looked to for strength. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had been doing that my entire life. I never quit when life got hard because there was always someone relying on me to keep going. When I was young, it was my brothers. When I joined the military it became my soldiers. After my injury and my dad’s diagnosis it was my family who looked to me for strength. Life is hard but it’s easier when we live for unselfish reasons. I firmly believe that we find strength in ourselves that we never knew we had when we realize someone else is counting on us.
As challenging as my life gets, those five words Stan said to me ring in my head over and over. If I fight, you fight. I’ll quit when you quit. Now I say those five words to God in my prayers. It’s my way of offering myself up to God when life gets challenging. Rarely do things go the way I planned them but that’s ok. I am resilient and have a strong support system. When God quits on me, I’ll quit. But I know he never will.
A few short years after Stan passed, I walked into the gym for the first time after my third back surgery and a song from the Creed movie (Rocky Balboa) came on. It wasn’t Eye of The Tiger, it started with Creed saying to Rocky, “If I fight you fight”. Simply put, it gave me chills. That part of the movie was when the tables had turned and the trainee was telling to trainer to not give up. That was Stan and I. When he passed, I stepped up to the plate to carry on his legacy. I wanted to be the leader he was. I trained others the way he trained me, but I needed his reminder to never quit.
Life get’s tough and if you are only out to fight for yourself you will never survive. The only reason I made it through the toughest moments of my life was because someone else fought beside me. If they didn’t quit, I couldn’t either and if I didn’t quit – either could they.
I’ve carried that mindset into every aspect of my life. I make it a point to prove to people that I will never give up so they know to lean on my in life’s toughest moments. We don’t need to know how to handle every obstacles thrown our way to weather the storm.
Now I live my life with the hope to be the person people look to and say, “If Tim quits, then I will quit.” Because I know that will never happen.
When you get back up and keep fighting in life, so will those who rely on you. Courage is contagious. Don’t quit. If you won’t do it for yourself, than do it for those who rely on you and if you don’t think anyone needs you, look again.
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