My youngest son ran in a marathon the other day. It was a really big event…some 25,000 participants. He is a college student, and works full time, but hadn’t been able to put in the amount of training it normally takes to run 26.2 miles. He ran the full marathon last year, so neither of us were too concerned.
The time came and thousands of runners took off. It was inspiring to watch so many people with widely varying age spans and athleticism compete. Some people are in their 60s or older, others are in their late teens. I saw people who did not look very athletic; some had some real physical challenges…but there they were…giving it their all. God bless them.
My son was doing well until about mile 20. He started fading. Then at mile 23 he called me, very dejected. He simply could not go on, and he asked me to pick him up. I picked him up, and let me tell you this was one very sad young man. He was really down on himself–very disgusted that he could not finish. I thought this was a good “daddy” time to encourage my son. So I asked him if he remembered what Teddy Roosevelt said in 1910. He said no. I reminded him and quoted the last part of the speech. It worked; my son was no longer so disgusted with himself. He knew he had gotten into the arena and was covered “in dust and sweat and blood”. What did TR say that was so encouraging? Here it is, the last part of his speech. Memorize it, and use it when you feel discouraged:
“It’s not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done 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 and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”