This is the second in a four part blog series, inspired by the girls who have called Courage House home – a home for victims of sex trafficking – and all the courageous overcomers who fight for their healing. Author Jenny Williamson, who is a huge football fan, uses Tom Brady’s historic comeback win in this year’s Super Bowl to encourage us all in not only dreaming big dreams but in courageously pursing them when obstacles are thrown our way. Jenny is Founder/CEO of Courage Worldwide, an organization that builds restoration homes for victims of sex trafficking.
To gain the victory; to win; conquer: to prevail over; to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; to defeat.
That one little word whispered to my spirit during intense times of prayer, hours of soul-searching, and while watching this year’s Super Bowl held more promise for me personally and for our organization, Courage Worldwide, than any word I have received in the 17 years I have been doing this. If you are also facing difficult circumstances, embarrassing situations, a recent failure, or if you are just plain tired of fighting the good fight because you have not seen the results you have hoped for, this blog is for you.
Photo property of: cbssports.com
“To win the Super Bowl, nothing is negative about this,” Brady said. “I just want the focus to be on positivity and that’s just kind of how I am and how I’ll always be.” —Tom Brady
1. Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself. (That was supposed to feel like a bucket of cold water thrown in your face or a swift kick in the butt.) I certainly needed to hear those words when I was struggling through my own difficult circumstances. In order to overcome the obstacles in life that will be thrown our way, we must stop feeling sorry for ourselves when they come.
Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, was publically accused of cheating – something he said he didn’t do. He fought it in court and lost. When the decision went against him, he didn’t spend energy on blaming others or feeling sorry for himself. Whatever internal battle he was going through, he did not let it propel him into quitting. In fact, it seemed this obstacle caused him to re-double his efforts to overcome the failure and proved everyone wrong by winning his fifth Super Bowl!
When we get hurt, disappointed, or face, what we believe, are insurmountable odds, we tend to start navel gazing. Our view and lens goes from outward to inward, thus it becomes incredibly easy to be hyper focused on ourselves – our pain – our circumstances. This is so dangerous. When we feel sorry for ourselves we begin to convince ourselves that we have the right to be bitter, angry, and unforgiving. We begin to feel justified in aligning ourselves with these emotions, wrapping them around us like a comforting old blanket. Stop! They are not going to make you feel better. Quite the opposite, actually. These feelings you may believe you are entitled to are energy robbers and motivation stealers. Left unchecked, they will embezzle your health and hijack your destiny. These feelings are sinister whispers trying to convince you to quit.
2. Think Different Thoughts. You have the internal power and personal choice to take every thought that pops into your head captive, and then decide if you will come in agreement with it. I can’t pretend to know what Tom Brady was thinking when he was accused of cheating or when he was 25 points behind and just minutes away from losing the Super Bowl. But I can tell you what he told his team at halftime. We will win this game. He told the reporters after the game he knew they were going to win. He referred to his team as being “mentally tough.” That is what I mean by taking every thought captive. They focused on the goal of winning, not the scoreboard, and took control of their thoughts and emotions, which in turn produced winning actions. Do you?
When you experience random, negative thoughts birthed when you have been hurt, disappointed, and/or experienced failure, do you change them, or do you come in agreement with them? Enticing thoughts such as, “How dare they do that to me after all I have done for them!” “I deserve better!” “It’s not my fault.” “It is not worth it – I’m quitting,” conspire to enslave us.
If we come in agreement with these negative, self-serving thoughts, we give them power – power to influence our emotions, produce our actions, and control our outcomes. To overcome, we must hijack the destructive, arbitrary thoughts that originate from pain, unfairness, or failure. To overcome, we must not only capture them but kill them off before agreeing with them. It is a discipline. Winners think winning thoughts. Overcomers think overcoming thoughts. When these types of negative thoughts pop into your mind after you have been hurt or are struggling in the middle of difficult, impossible circumstances, you must shift your focus from the difficult to the divine. Ask for a heavenly perspective on your situation. Pray. Focus on your goals and dreams – not the man-made scoreboard. Our thoughts ultimately produce our emotions, which in turn generate our actions; therefore, it is critical we decide which thoughts we are going to align ourselves with if we are to overcome.
“… We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:5)
3. Don’t take it personally. In order to overcome, we must become less offended. Yes – less offended. We also have this power. We need to view every circumstance as a test or an attack, not a personal assault. A test is to win – an attack to overcome – both make you stronger. When you continually experience offense, hurt feelings, and/or blame others for your circumstances, you make them the author of your story – you give them power over your dreams and goals.
Tom Brady wasn’t happy about being accused of cheating and his subsequent suspension for the first four games of the season, but he didn’t waste time and energy blaming NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for handing down that sentence. He remained focused on what was good and positive in his life. He didn’t let the temporary obstacle ruin the entire season or re-write his story. He retained that control. Though the Commissioner had power over this one particular decision, he did not have power over Tom Brady’s life, his thoughts, or his actions.
For those of us who profess a faith in God, we need to take our hurt, pain, and discouragement to Him for perspective and comfort – not other people. Often when we are hurting we seek validation from people we love or whom we know will agree with us. We start forming a team with our names on the back of the jersey, whose sole mission is to agree with us and make us feel better. But often what we really need is that cold bucket of water or the swift kick in the butt telling us to get over it and move on. To overcome we must stop taking “it” personal.
Part 3 of this blog series will be sent on Thursday, March 16th.
Make a $50 donation this month to Courage Worldwide using this link and receive a free autographed copy of Jenny’s book Do You Have the Courage to Be You, an inspirational read about finding your unique purpose and destiny.
Announcement: Jenny’s newest book, a workbook and study called Uniquely You, published by PTLB, will be available on Amazon in June 2017.