A few days ago I saw the movie “42.” It is the story about Jackie Robinson. I have from time to time thought about what Mr. Robinson went through, but never could I fully understand the hatred that he felt from so many people. Watching this movie made me reflect on some of the trials of my own life. Many people think that life is hard, but we all have trials we go through. I am in no way comparing my troubles to the atrocities suffered by Mr. Robinson. However, there is a great lesson to be learned in how Mr. Robinson handled overwhelming situations.
Each of us has our own way of dealing with adversity. Some people stand their ground and fight. Other people may run. Then there are varying degrees of reactions in between. Few people I know have the ability to handle situations the way Mr. Robinson was portrayed in the movie. To do this takes great control and not letting your emotions dictate your actions.
I am reminded of a talk given by a church leader that I heard a few years ago. This man told a story how he started a sales representative job after college. He was assigned to work with a seasoned salesman visiting stores that carried his company’s products. The duo had visited several stores and things were going well. Then they went to a store where the owner was extremely rude and treated them with disrespect. Upon leaving the store the senior salesman had a smile on his face and seemed unaffected by the conduct of the store owner. Noticing this the young salesman asked his mentor how he could be so happy after being treated so poorly. The answer was simple. The senior companion said, “I refuse to let others dictate how I feel.”
We all have emotions and feelings. There will be times when others are going to do or say things that will step on our feelings leaving us to have a variety of emotions. We cannot control how others treat us. But we can control how we react to these intrusions.
Mr. Robinson was a man of character. Strong character is something that takes time to develop. Going through the trials of life can often times be extremely difficult. If a person fails the trials that are placed before him or her there will certainly be more trials ahead to help improve a person’s character.
How we react to difficult times is a choice. Everything we do in life comes from choices that we make. Many people will argue that some circumstances are beyond our control. Yes, there are events that may happen to us that we cannot control. However, how we react to anything is a choice. Often times we think we are making the best choice for the situation. However, our judgement may be clouded by our feelings. Stressful times may need a period of cooling down before reacting. Therein lies the first choice.
Mr. Robinson was faced with a choice when he was being bombarded with racial obscenities from the opposing team and the fans. I am sure that this hatred was taking its toll on him. On the field he did not react. In one scene the hatred was overwhelming. In reaction he left the field and had a private moment of anger. The owner of his team approached him to console him. He was able to gather himself, go back onto the field and put the haters in their place by showing them how well he could hit a ball.
Mr. Robinson made a choice to not react to such hatred in public. He took some time to get his emotions under control. He then with a renewed determination went back onto the field and did what he was so good at.
How many of us when faced with difficult situations will take that time to get our emotions under control? How often do we react purely out of what we are feeling during the heat of the moment? There are going to be so many times in our lives when people will tell us that we cannot or should not do something that is a worthwhile venture. But that should not stop us. I say to the people with the negative comments to go and tell someone who is successful in that area that they cannot do it. Often times the negative people are just jealous.
What made Jackie Robinson such a great man? Was it because he was a great ball player? Was it because he was the first black man in Major League Baseball? That answer to both of those questions is NO! There have been many great ball players who were not great men. There was a whole list of players that the Brooklyn Dodgers were considering to be the first African American to play in the big leagues. What made Mr. Robinson a great man was his choices. What made Jackie Robinson so great was how he chose to react to overwhelming odds.
Each of of has greatness within us. The greatness comes from choosing positive reactions to both positive and negative events in our lives. We each can fly to a higher level than we think we can. We simply have to believe in ourselves. Sometimes we need a push up from someone close to us who truly has our best interests at heart. But we each have the power to rise above the odds.
Keep an eye on the sky!
The Prozac Pilot