That Extra Effort


What is that extra effort? I believe it is—COURAGE. It’s that moment when a circumstance in life gets so difficult, that it feels like giving up would be a better option—but instead a choice is made to find the strength to keep going. It might be the choice to keep reaching for a challenging goal, to keep hoping in the midst of heartache, or to keep persevering through the difficulties of parenting. The list could go on for a long time because we live in a broken world; a world where we don’t like to experience pain, but at some point we all do.

My late uncle battled with HIV/AIDS for 10 years and passed away at the age of 38. I was just shy of 12 years old when he died, but I have many good memories of him. He was kind, loving and funny. He made me laugh A LOT. I later discovered the courage that he demonstrated—he was a fighter and he didn’t give up. Prior to his diagnosis, he started his own rare coin business that operated even through the advanced stages of his illness. During this time-frame, he also founded two other related businesses. After testing positive for HIV, he helped start a support service organization for people living with HIV/AIDS called Living Strategies, Inc. He chose to take his difficult situation and create something good out of it.

After his passing, my grandparents (his parents) found a quote on a index card in my uncle’s handwriting which read:

That extra effort when you you want to give up, that’s the difference between success and failure.

 There was no credit given to an author so it’s unknown whether these were my uncle’s words or someone’s else’s but regardless, they became important words to my family. The index card was framed and displayed in my mom’s house while I was growing up during my teen years. I passed by it often and thought about the saying. It resonated with me then—it still does now. 

 I’m no stranger to challenges of my own; some little, some big. In 2005 I ran my first half-marathon and I felt like I was going to die by the time I got to mile 10; I had horrible cramps in my side and my legs felt like lead.  I remember thinking in my head, “I can’t do this.” Well rather than being defeated, I found the strength to keep going and finish the race. It was the best feeling crossing that finish line! By that point I didn’t care what my time was because I felt successful simply for finishing.

I also faced some rocky roads when I was a teacher. Teaching can be a hard job, yet it can also be incredibly rewarding. During the moments where I felt under-appreciated or overworked, I tried to remind myself why I was in the teaching profession—for the kids. They needed me to stay strong and put my best effort forward because their learning depended on it. God didn’t expect me to be a perfect teacher, he just wanted me to do my best and give it my all.

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.

Galatians 6:9

Now as a stay-at-home mom, there are certainly times when I feel weary and worn-out. I am beyond blessed to be a mom and I am so grateful to have a wonderful husband who supports our “little family” so that I can stay home with our son. My precious toddler is the light and joy of my life, but that doesn’t mean that motherhood is always easy; sometimes is can be very difficult. Deep down I know, God doesn’t expect me to be a perfect parent, he just wants me to do my best and give it my all—to choose courage rather than to accept defeat.

When we feel beaten down we can choose to put forward that extra effort. We don’t have to be crushed by defeat. We can get up, brush the dirt off our knees and keep going. Even when it feels like our efforts go un-noticed by others, they aren’t overlooked by our Heavenly Father. We have a loving God who cares for us deeply.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

I don’t think it’s a mistake that my grandparents found that index card. After all, it was a small index card that could have easily gotten overlooked. The words on that card and the actions of my uncle have been an inspiration to me to not give up—to put forward that extra effort, especially during times of hardship. My uncle lived a with terminal illness but he had the courage to make the best out of the time he had left. He used his pain to create something positive by helping others and even though he left this world at an early age, he did not accept defeat.

{This post is written in loving memory of my Uncle Steve, a man who reminds me to put forward that extra effort and to choose courage over defeat.}

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© Pocketful of Motherhood, 2013