We tend to celebrate winners. The sporting world, in which winning is paramount, have given us many winners to celebrate – Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Brian Lara and the list can go on and on. We have been cultured to celebrate big. Only big accomplishments tend to be recognized. But the truth is many of us will never win a medal or an award yet we have made several notable accomplishments even in our day to day lives. So many of us have won and should celebrate but no one recognizes it and sadly we ourselves often don’t recognize it.
We never celebrate others struggles and strengths or our own for that matter. But I want to challenge that attitude.
I say that the student who was able to get through University with little to no financial support, getting on the taxi to school sometimes with no return taxi fare in his pocket but God provided; he has become strong for it. That student has won and should celebrate!
That young man from the ghetto who has defied all odds and was not sucked in by stigmatism and the innumerable distractions which his community presented; but rather attended school while others were smoking and ‘liming on the block’, then attended university and graduated with an engineering degree – he has become strong because of it. He has won and should celebrate!
That young father who has stepped up, becoming a single dad when mommy walked out. Day after day he works hard to provide for his son; taking care of him, making sure he is fed, clothed and schooled among so much more. He has become strong because of it. He has won and should celebrate!
That young man whose father walked out on him yet through the sacrifice and guidance of his single mother has grown into a man with a strong personality and strong values and a wonderful father despite his situation. He has become strong because of it, his mother has become strong, they have both won and should celebrate!
The mother who is barely literate, have made a few mistakes but worked to turn her life around even while enduring exploitation at times, making better once she could, takes the best care of her only child and fights hard to keep a roof over their heads. She does all in her power to make sure her child stays out of trouble in a society that devours young men. That mother is stronger for it, she has won and should celebrate!
What about that young woman who found herself without a mother’s guidance and pregnant at age 18, rejected by a father and stepmother who said she could not live at home anymore because of her pregnancy. Life could have gone in any direction for her, resulting in her becoming just another statistic but she persevered, did all she could to improve herself and life for her child, bringing up that child the best she could. She has grown strong through the process. She has won and should celebrate!
By now I am sure you’ve got the picture. There are not enough books that can hold the stories of seemingly ordinary men and women who have grown strong because of their struggles and who have overcome.
We all have a story. What have you overcome? Which of your strengths are you downplaying? Take a moment to introspect. Which situations, accomplishments, strengths, have you not acknowledged or have not even recognized that you have won? I used to look at the fact that I graduated University as not a big deal, but if you get to know more of my background you would recognize as I eventually did that it is a big deal. When I graduated secondary school with only two O’level subjects, I never dreamed of University. I am not even sure I had ever heard of it, for such discussions were not part of my household culture. I do remember my father often talking about a cousin living the U.S.A. who I had never met, studying to become a doctor. But I do not remember any discussion about the possibility that I can attain a University education; it was not even a dream. After all I was not getting the best grades at school at the time, something that was consistently drawn to my attention.
Arnold Schwarzenegger could not have said it any better, he says, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” This quote resonates so much with me. The definition of strength he is saying is not winning, rather the definition of strength is facing hardship and not surrendering.
The Apostle Paul quotes a comforting reassurance he received from the Lord in 2 Cor. 12, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness”. Paul eventually goes on to declare with all confidence, “for when I am weak then I am strong!” Do you feel weak? The Bible says that you are strong; believe that. You are strong, you are a winner, celebrate!
We all have struggled with something, refusing to surrender, which led to us becoming overcomers. We are all stronger and better because of our struggles. We should celebrate each other; we should celebrate our strengths. I challenge you today to celebrate your strengths.
I would love to hear from you. Why don’t you choose one strength to celebrate today and share it with me? You can share it in a comment or email me. Let’s celebrate together! I have got a secret to tell you. That last story about the 18-year-old, that’s my story and I am choosing to celebrate it! No more shame or guilt, but rather joy and celebration for refusing to surrender and growing strong in the process.
Finally, one of my favorite songs ever is, ‘Each Tear’ by Mary J Blige. I leave you with some of the lyrics and a link to the YouTube video where you can listen to the song. Please do take the time to listen. I promise you won’t regret it. 😊
In each tear
There’s a lesson,
Makes you wiser than before
Makes you stronger than you know
And each tear
Brings you closer to your dreams
No mistake, no heartbreak
Can’t take away what you’re meant to be
We can’t change the things
That we’ve done that’s in the past , But fighting won’t get us anywhere
So if you want, here’s my hand , Every night there is one thing I do,
I bow my head and I pray for you, And the last thing that I want
Is for you to fall apart, Your future will be clearer
I want you to remember…
You’re much more than a struggle that you go through
You’re not defined by your pain so let it go
You’ re not a victim
You’re more like a winner , And you’re not in defeat
You’re more like a queen…