Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In

Last week I shared the story of my mom’s perseverance that shaped my world as my mom dealt with the circumstances of life. Life knocked her down plenty, but she kept getting up and marching forward.  Even as she battled severe depression, she never gave in as she always wanted all of God’s best for her and her family.

I wanted to come back to how my mom’s life shaped my story of getting up again. I wanted to flesh out more of what I touched on in the last post when I broke the news to my mom about my eyesight beginning to fail.

I caught her one morning and matter of factly told her what was happening to my eyes when she burst out in tears, tears of compassion and heartache.

Compassion for her son, but heartache to God, almost asking God please no more for my family. My two older sisters had passed away at an early age, and one of my older brothers, George already went through the same genetic condition that I was now facing with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy.  Of seven children, four came down with severe physical maladies, I was the last.

Perhaps at the moment when my mom cried out in front of me, I was in denial of what was going to happen, or perhaps I watched a family model toughness in the face of difficulty. My mom’s dogged perseverance to never give in when life knocked her down, helped me mentally prepare for what laid ahead. The matter of fact way in which I told her what was happening probably belied a bit of denial mixed in with my assuredness that nothing was too difficult for our family. God would help us make a way.

Now with 15 years of hindsight in the rear view mirror, I know the denial existed, but the lessons learned from watching my mom handle adversity also prepared me to overcome any of the obstacles that would come ahead.

  • I went through rehabilitation school to learn independent living skills in three months, when usually two terms were the minimum necessary.
  • I entered the school within a year of losing my sight, when all of my classmates had dealt with their struggles for years before facing the reality that they needed to learn skills to survive. Not one other classmate had lost their sight as recent as four years.
  • I went back to school, attending Life Pacific College and graduating in four years.
  • Now, I am serving as a missionary in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok is not known for their handicapped accessible sidewalks and public transportation.

But before any of this, I remember my mom advocating for me. She went to people unsolicited by me to let them know I could do anything. She did not want me to be left out just because I could not see. I was given an opportunity to be a youth camp intern that first summer of blindness. The camp director did not know what to expect from me, but took my mom’s advice to heart. He did not hold back from asking me to participate in all the duties of an intern. Maybe I couldn’t do the cool stuff like drive the riding lawnmower, but I cut back weeds in the woods, cleaned bathrooms, washed dishes, prayed for students, led Bible studies, and fully participated with everything, even as each week of camp, my eyes went from bad to worse.

I learned a spirit of overcoming from my mom. I knew my problem was tough, but my mom had been through a bunch more already. The life she lived illustrated the humanity in all of us with a yearning to never accept our circumstances. How did she overcome? She kept a clear view of who God was in her life. She knew the goodness of God always came present to us in our pain. My mom taught me a lot, but she really taught me most of all how to climb over those barriers that life throws at you.

Who helped prepare you to overcome life’s difficulties? How did they do that?

2 thoughts on “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In

  1. I often credit my perseverance in difficult work situations to my job as student body treasurer during my senior year in college. I had a lousy situation handed to me by my predecessor, and while I ashamedly didn’t do my best work there, I didn’t give up in spite of how much I wanted to. I can at least say proudly that I handed that job off to my successor 10x better than I inherited it. That year was one of intense growth for me, and had I not gone through it, I wouldn’t have developed the fortitude to survive the last six years in the business world.

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