“We may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated… In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”- Maya Angelou
Initially, I wanted to entitle this piece “Failing or Falling Forward” to demystify what it means to “fail” and how to find purpose in your perceived shortcomings. After watching President Obama speak during ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” I was inspired to honor my faith that helped me realized who I was, what I can rise from, and how I still came out of it.
No weapon formed against me shall prosper.
I did not know what it meant to encounter defeat for the first 16 years of my life. In Fall 2009, the beginning of my junior year of high school, I experienced defeat twice in the same semester. First, I was cut from both the varsity and junior varsity soccer teams – the first time I had ever been cut from any sport in my life. Two months later, I failed my driver’s test because I was unable to parallel park without hitting any of the 6 foot cones that outlined the course. Now, while some may view these defeats as minor, I did not. To come face to face with the idea that I was not “good enough” to be a part of a team, let alone “skilled enough” to maneuver around five cones in a parking lot was hard.
Fortunately, the defeats did not stop there.
My senior year of high school, I was denied from my “dream school,” the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. After becoming chapter president in April 2013, I resigned from my position in December 2013, the same semester I failed Chemistry 111. In Fall 2014, I was one meeting away from being dismissed from my academic major. In Fall 2015, I was impeached from my position as Fraternity Council President. On February 24th, 2016, I was notified that I did not pass my Board of Certification exam to become a certified athletic trainer. And in March 2016, while walking through the snow in Canada, I received an email from Harvard University stating the following:
These were just my visible defeats. If you only looked at my curriculum vitae (CV), you would have never known I struggle with depression and anxiety. A constant feeling of apprehension overwhelming my psyche and never feeling like I was in control. I also struggled with financial insecurity – “a manifestation of a self-worth problem, not a net-worth problem.” Soon after I struggled with addiction, a generational curse aimed to keep me down. Together, these defeats lead to suicidal ideations until I finally realized who I was – a child of God. And as a child of God, I am more than enough.
Today, I write this post as a graduate student, certified athletic trainer, and leadership speaker.
I am undefeated and not because I am perfect – if you read anything above, you would know that. I am undefeated because after encountering a diversity of defeats, I am still here. Every challenge was an opportunity to show myself who I was, what I can rise from, and how I can still come out it. Every challenge tested my belief in God and what He said He is able to do. These experiences allowed me to see that faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace.
Finals are around the corner and the end of the calendar year is only 34 days away. There will be times when you are overwhelmed and exhausted. There will be times when you contemplate whether college is for you or the job you have now is fulfilling. Throughout this process, remember you are undefeated. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. And everything that is for you, is already done.
My name is Tim Bryson and I am a child of God. I am a living testimony to the failures of the enemy. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. For as long as I have breath, I will give God thanks for I am undefeated.
“In spite of the storm and rain, heartache and pain
I’m still alive declaring you
I made it through, I didn’t lose
Experienced lost at a major cost,
But I never lost faith in you” – Marvin Sapp
Encourage somebody to be great today!