There is a bracelet I wear on my right arm. People assume that because it’s blue it has to do with the Duke Blue Devils. Oddly enough no. It has to do with another basketball team, and a coach who had an amazing amount of courage and strength.
The bracelet says, “Don’t Ever Give Up”. I had some made not too long ago, when I couldn’t find the one I ordered through the Jimmy V Foundation. It is inspired from a video of a speech that Jimmy Valvano gave when he accepted the 1993 Espy Arthur Ashe Courage Award (the first one given). At that time, Valvano, coach of the NC State Men’s Basketball Team, was battling cancer. Jimmy V had the audience in the grasp of his hands and spirit for more than 10 minutes. His words were inspiring. His hope was contagious. His spirit was healing. Watching him, you didn’t see a man who was about to die from cancer. You saw a man who lived with passion and heart; and the pain was a mere obstacle. During the speech, he introduced the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research and that their motto would be “Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up”. Jimmy V didn’t. He had the world fighting right beside him and they fought every step of the way. Jimmy Valvano died a month later but that spirit and passion live on.
I think about that speech a lot as I look at my bracelet. What does that phrase mean for me? Yes, I am searching for a new call and it’s challenging at times, uncertain of what is coming and when it will. And sometimes I wonder what else could happen. It gets frustrating and there are days I just want to shut the world away. Then I look outside of my head and see the people facing their own battles, much worse than my own, and fighting with hope, passion, and spirit.
The family of a three year old who is fighting neuroblastoma.
The family of an eight year old, just diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
The family of a dear friend who walked me into seminary, fighting another rare form of cancer.
All three of them have already won so many battles and continue to take their courage to the next level. They are winning with spirit, passion, and hope in their hearts. They are winning with the love, support, and prayers of so many people around them. They are winning with unbelievable courage and strength and taking this cancer down to the mat. All of them have taught me a few things about life and how we face it…in a humbling way.
I have been blessed with so many gifts and opportunities but sadly, there are days I forget what God has done for me. When I get out of my selfish head and heart, I remember how far I’ve come. I remember that I am never alone. And more importantly, I remember that there are many people fighting battles that I can’t even imagine and how they are staying focused on God. I remember that we are given courage and strength that come from a depth beyond our human understanding. I remember that when we keep focused on the One who cares for us all, then we will never give up.
God will never give up on me, so why should I? I won’t.
1993 ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award