There are moments in every life when quitting is easier.  The relief starts in the mind when we contemplate no longer trying, and moves to the heart when we lower our expectation.  We realize in this moment life is easier when expectation is lower.  Life is easier without the possibility of disappointment.  Life is easier when we stop trying to rise.

My parents taught me something early in life.  They taught me hard times come, they always come, and when they arrive you will meet yourself for the first time.

They wanted me to understand, and spoke plainly about this in the late sixties, that for a young black kid hard times were going to come.  These lessons were reinforced with stories of their experience with Jim Crow and racism.

jim crow

I embraced those lessons and was profoundly inspired when I discovered their source of hope.   This hope had helped them get through those hard times.  It was the hope they were passing on to me.   Their hope came from God.   Neither of them was interested in organized religion, but they were interested in the hope.  This hope was the type to tell a person who was knocked down to get up.

When I read the Bible I understood God had been their hope.

16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.  

Proverbs 24:16 (NIV)

The more I read and learned about God I understood he was the God of those who rise.

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.  

Micah 7:8 (NIV)

This leads me to one of my favorite poems written by a woman from my parent’s generation.  Maya Angelou and these selections from her poem ‘Still I Rise’ make three big points about rising.

Rise and Rediscover – Purpose

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

When we fail we tend to write ourselves off, and let others do the same.   God wants us to rise.   This means overcoming criticism by rediscovering God’s purpose for our lives.

Rise and Redefine – Passion

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

One we rediscover God’s purpose for our lives we must redefine ourselves accordingly.    Rather than allowing the past to dictate our future, we must rewrite our future without any consideration of the past.  This redefines the next stage of our lives, and when this is done we experience a new found passion for life.

Rise and Reinvent – Path

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise

Once we have found our purpose and passion we must begin the work of reinventing ourselves.   Becoming the person this new vision has shown us.  This puts us on the path to rise!