Sometimes Endurance Fails, but There’s Hope
In Loving Memory. A Brief Dedication and Remembrance of Ivan Robert Wall and All Who Have Fallen Early. A Long and Enduring Dedication to Those of Us Still Here – Still Fighting. Don’t Ever Give Up!
Thirty-Six Years of friendship gone in an instant. Yeah, there was a battle. I believed we were battling those demons together. It seemed like regular progress. I believed God was stronger than the enemy… He is… I believed… well… Sometimes things just don’t work out. Ivan took his life anyway. It still hurts like hell. In some sense, maybe it is a little bit of hell in this life. If it were not for the cross and the grace of God, I may have followed him down that dark and lonely road. But, I didn’t. If you are dealing with extreme emotions, loss, hate, hurt, or even post traumatic stress (PTSD), then this series is for you.
If you are told by “others” that “everything is going to be fine,” you may very well be setting yourself and others up for failure. And, then, there are those who are going to tell you that “there is no such thing as failure…” These people are those timid souls who have never been in the arena. They are the souls who read books, watch movies and then act as if they have “been there.” Know who I’m talking about?
Are you tired of all of the cliches and “leadership” classes that are designed to make you feel like superman, when in your own heart, you know it’s all just a facade? Well, if reality and living in the real world has run over you or if you have found yourself on the ground and looking up after a major crisis – maybe a crisis that put you down so hard, you weren’t sure if you even wanted to get back up. Then, this project is for you! I’ve been on my back several times in my lifetime. I’ve been to that dark place. I’ve also gotten back up time and time again… dusted off… and kept going.
Ivan was that same kind of athlete and fighter. He was an award winning athlete. A long-distance runner, championship wrestler and a 4.0 student who didn’t have to study. He achieved what he set out to do and when the odds were against him, he accelerated! It’s not uncommon for brilliant people to battle depression or other types of emotional struggles. Ivan was no exception. But, unlike many who just give in to biological or emotional struggles, Ivan fought. He entered the arena weekly running hundreds of miles and wearing out countless pairs of shoes. In some sense, Ivan was a hero of the Faith and a champion for Christ. Yet, one day, the adversary bested him.
I wish I could say that everything worked out great and everything eventually was “fine.” But, that’s not real life for most folks. It wasn’t for me or many that I know from years past. Challenges just as large as the one I described were lurking in my future. But those same challenges are now in the past and I can look back on them with greater understanding and clarity. Time and faith have allowed me a different lens and filter. This particular story will share the good and bad and will dig deep into the grit necessary to keep going, even when you think you can’t go on anymore.
I have learned that God just simply doesn’t work the way many American preachers like to characterize him. But, I also found out that I was not alone and that sometimes life just requires digging in deep, gritting your teeth and making a rational decision to keep going. It’s a decision.
In it all, I learned that God is faithful, and even though life may hit us hard, we can still endure and we can still overcome. Don’t you love that quote from Teddy Roosevelt about the man in the arena? I shared that with Ivan years ago, and he loved it too. It was our favorite quote and it spurred us on to push each other to be better. A mutual friend, and another long distance runner said to me at dinner just a few weeks ago… “Ivan was the poster child for endurance… until he wasn’t.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”Theodore Roosevelt
I’d say that about sums it up. So many of us in leadership know others or have friends who have taken their lives somewhere along life’s journey. Maybe you have considered ending your own life. Surviving close friends or family after their suicide can be brutal. The pain of it can be overwhelming. It drove me into deep darkness and my soul wandered for months before I could get back up and fully engage life again. I spoke at the funeral and was last to leave the grave. It seemed like everywhere I went to avoid him, I ran head first into his memories. I drove all the way to the red woods in Northern California. And, the tears and anger kept coming. They pursued me like hounds straight out of hell. I ended up in the emergency room with kidney stones from dehydration and exhaustion that overpowered every waking hour for weeks.
Ivan was everything Roosevelt described – and then he wasn’t. It doesn’t always work out. But, you can prepare the battlefield of life to help ensure you don’t give in – or give up. You can insulate your life to avoid and conquer the temptations to compromise. You can help others to do the same.
Don’t miss this series! If you are a man or woman, Christian leader, warrior, first responder or a shepherd of the flock, this will be for you!
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.1 Corinthians 9: 24
Let me take you on a journey into the heart and soul of every warrior – every leader – every person.