I recently had the opportunity to catch part of the new Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelts and I have to say that I was impressed and I need to watch the entire film very soon. If you have not seen the film, it is an autobiographical film about Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor as they become more prominent in American history.
I was truly amazed by all that they were able to accomplish. But what amazed me the most was the sheer determination that Franklin Roosevelt had to not let the fact that he was paralyzed stop him from reaching his goals in his life. I was unaware of the amount of pain he was in on a daily basis especially when he would try and walk with the braces that he wore on his legs. But with all of that he did not let it stop him, he continued to push forward and became President of the United States.
When I was eighteen I enlisted in the United States Army and went off to Fort Leanordwood, Missouri for basic training. This was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life up to that point. We were pushed beyond the breaking point physically, mentally, and spiritually but in the end I was much better for it. I can remember the drill sergeants constantly pushing us to do just one more push up or to run just a few more steps. Motivation and determination were the key to fulfilling the mission of completing basic training.
I think the life of a Christian is the same way, we need motivation and determination to complete the mission. So very often I come into contact with people who tell of their spiritual struggles, let me just say that is you are not struggling spiritually you are not working hard enough at it. We talk about what it is that makes this a struggle and how to overcome it and soon they are back on track. Living an authentically Christian life in this world today is not easy, but then again it is not supposed to be easy.
I have written in the past about forgiveness and how we are to forgive all who have wronged us whether or not they accept the forgiveness we are offering. Being able to forgive those who have harmed us is one of the most difficult parts of being a Christian, but we have to do it not only for the person we are forgiving but for ourselves. We have to push through the difficulty of it for the sake of our own spiritual health. In the end we will be happy that we were able to do this.
My parish in Southbridge Massachusetts celebrated its 90th Anniversary of ministry. We took time to reflect on the history of the Church community and the sacrifice of the founders of their time, talent, and treasure to build the community that we have today. They were all immigrants who came to America in search of a better life for their families. Many of them worked at the American Optical Company and would climb the hill to the site of the church after working long hours, and literally build the church with their own hands. The determination of the founders to build this community was evident at our celebration. They did not give up and neither can we.
How often do we give up on something just because it is going to be difficult to accomplish? What would have happened if Franklin Roosevelt gave up when his legs hurt and he just curled up somewhere and gave into his disability? We cannot give up. We need to find the determination to push through all of the difficulties in our lives and complete the mission, no matter what it is.