Surviving the Grind of Life!


As a sophomore in high school I decided to try out for the wrestling team even though I scarcely knew a thing about the sport.  Much to my surprise I won a spot wrestling varsity. For me it was a great accomplishment. As inexperienced as I was, somehow I managed to win my first varsity match. I was beginning to like the feeling of being a “winner”. I was feeling confident when the second match of the season came around. I will never forget my coach coming up to me in the locker room, just before the match and while pointing to my opponent he said, “Don’t worry; a guy doesn’t win the match just by throwing his press clippings on the mat!” Then he walked off. I remember thinking, “What! What do you mean?” I walked over to another one of my wrestling teammates who was a senior, and I asked, “Do you know who I am wrestling tonight?” He said, “Yea, it’s a kid named Grinder who was the county champ the past couple of years. I think he placed at states last year!” My heart skipped a beat and my confidence took a nosedive. I kept thinking, “He can’t be that good!” But that night I found out that he was.

I don’t recall when the match got out of my control but I think it was when the referee blew the whistle to start it. Grinder immediately came at me and the next thing I knew I was on my back fighting to stop from getting pinned. Today they have a mercy rule in high school wrestling. Once you are behind by ten points the match is stopped. But back then you wrestled till you got pinned or the three two-minute periods were over. So it was that I found myself battling, not for victory that night, but for pride. Grinder pounded me unmercifully for the entire six minutes! I managed to escape three times but just as soon as I got loose he took me down and I would once again find myself on my back. I’m sure for the home crowd it was quite a spectacle watching my imitation of an upside down turtle. But, amidst the beating I kept repeating one thing in my mind. ” Don’t get pinned!” And so I fought for what seemed like hours; lifting one shoulder after another off the mat. It was just enough to keep my opponent from pinning me. When I got up to shake his hand I looked at the board to see the final score. Through the sweat I saw the final tally was 18-3. In my entire high school career I never saw anyone get beaten by so many points. I mean fifteen points! If you know anything about wrestling, giving up 18 points is almost unheard of! The reason it is unheard of is because someone who is getting beat that badly is usually pinned long before they give up that many points.  I must say that Grinder lived up to his name that day. He had ground me up and thoroughly humiliated me in front of all my friends and family!

The next day I was walking down the hall of school and a couple of my “friends” passed by and made a snide remark about how badly I had been beaten. It was an embarrassing uncomfortable moment for me. The sting of which I still remember! I wanted to say something smart or witty back but what do you say when you have been beaten so badly! But later on that day, my math teacher, who apparently was at the match, came up to me before class and she said,  “I know you lost yesterday, but I wanted to tell you I admired you for not getting pinned”. She gave me a big smile as I sat down. I recall thinking to myself, “Wow, somebody got it!” Looking back perhaps it was because she was an adult and saw things on a different level than my peers. She understood that my only goal for success that night was in not surrendering to Grinder. I hadn’t gotten pinned! I had stayed out there the entire six minutes in shame as he pushed and mopped my face into the mat. But when I shook his hand at the end of that match, she understood what I had been trying to accomplish.  She got it! Success is not always measured in the final score or outcome, but rather in how hard you fight, and that you don’t quit when times are tough!

Well the wrestling match I had with Grinder still lingers in my memory. It lingers because I didn’t give up that day! I didn’t surrender! Life is full of similar kinds of matches. Sometimes life’s opponents far outmatch us. Our opponent on the mat of life can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. It can attack us and devastate our lives! At times we can feel humiliated in front of friends and family. Even seemingly small challengers can grind us down when battled on a daily basis. But if we are faithful and put our trust in the Lord, he will give us the strength to persevere. I lost that match to Grinder that day but I gained more out of that match than if I had won. Sometimes self-respect is worth more than a notch on the belt of worldly fame. There is a certain inner strength that comes to those who don’t succumb to the daily grind of the adversary.

In the end the Lord will give us the strength to overcome all. Victory over our enemies and trials may never come in this life, but we are promised that all will be made whole in the eternities through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Until the sunrise of that day, keep fighting even when you feel you are overmatched! It will build in you noble characteristics that are far more reaching than the momentary glory of this world!


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