When I was a boy weight was always a struggle; I was three times the size of most boys my age. In sixth grade, I was asked to join the football team as an offensive and defensive tackle. I did very well because of my size; however, my strength had trouble keeping up with my weight. I had a great deal of trouble with my right shoulder dislocating because it wasn’t strong enough to handle my body mass. I liked being big, but I didn’t want to be fat. If I could have the attention and success of being big without the shame of being fat, I would be at peace.
Fast forward a few years to senior year in high school, I was a three-sport letterman all four years of high school: wrestling, football, and track were my three sports. I suffered eighteen dislocated shoulders during that period. During the end of my junior year, I found a new love for running; I would run at least three miles every day no matter the conditions. I continued to run all that summer, when I returned to high school to start my senior year, I had lost all of my fat. I weighed approximately one hundred and ninety pounds that year when football season started; I was all muscle.
The assistant football coach used to give me hell when the team was in the weight room because I couldn’t lift much weight for my size. My right shoulder was torn apart and needed reconstruction surgery. I had the courage or insanity to compete in contact sports even though doctors had told me not to and that I required major surgery on my right shoulder. The coach was heartless! He would call me names and make fun of my lack of strength. I remember one year during wrestling season the assistant football coach was watching the match; I dislocated my shoulder in the first period but continued with one arm. I was able to take down my opponent and pin him to win the match. The football coach made a nasty comment to me after the match about how sloppy I wrestled. He was just plain mean; I would have the last laugh in years to come!
After I had graduated from high school, I had a complete reconstruction surgery of my right shoulder. My doctors told me that I could never lift weights or compete in active sports ever again; being as stubborn as I am, I didn’t listen for long. After I had rehabilitated my shoulder, I returned to lifting weights and wrestling freestyle in college tournaments. I placed in the finals in a few of the wrestling tournaments in my age and weight groups. My shoulder held up just fine!
“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.” – Roger Bannister
I ended up replacing the assistant football coach who gave me such grief in the past. I became a State Champion, a Nine-Time-National-Bench-Press Champion and Two-Time-World-Bench-Press Champion, Best Master Bench-Press at 2010 Nationals, and won dozens of power-lifting competitions between 2000 and 2011. I had become one of the strongest men in the world for my age and weight class; I still hold several state and national power-lifting records. It’s amazing what a resentment can accomplish! Just kidding, anger, and resentments won’t get you anywhere good; however, hard work and a good attitude will. It’s so important to stay positive; our minds are so powerful when it comes to success or failure in our lives. My power-lifting coach used to say, “If you can see it, you can be it!”
We shouldn’t let negative people and negative comments have power in our lives; although, when you’re young it’s hard to know that people in authority can be wrong. How do we prepare our children for bad spirited people in positions of authority such as coaches and teachers? I believe the best defense here is communication with our kids. If they share what’s happening in their lives with us, then we can help guide them, especially in difficult situations such as this. I was fortunate to have great parents that loved and believed in me; we had tremendous communication between us.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi
When kids listen to a lie about themselves and believe it, the consequences in their lives can be devastating. Sometimes when kids believe these lies, they go right to their very core, their spirits. Unless someone comes along that can help them to see the truth, that they believe a lie about themselves; that they have a lie on their spirit, they may live their whole life that way. The lie must be removed, and the victim must be given a new, positive and nurturing directive to replace the lie. If the person will believe this new directive as a truth in their life, they can be healed of the wreckage; they will be able to change.
Believing the lies of others can lead to low self-esteem, shame, guilt, suicide, addictions, depression, lack of motivation, self-hatred, all kinds of problems. This is an issue worth discussing with your children. Realistic, positive, nurturing environments where young people can build confidence and self-esteem in healthy ways will help combat this type of problem from ever happening.
“The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.” – Unknown
It’s important that we are happy with the person who we are, if we are not, we do have the power to change; we can become a new creation. We should never let other people have so much power in our lives that they can dictate who we are. Those who hold a position of power to help mold the young and the vulnerable must be careful with their verbiage as words carry as much power as a punch and then some. Remember, don’t believe lies!
Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin