“When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.”
I was recruited to play football for the University of Tampa a year before their program closed back in the mid 1970s. On the recruiting trip, they took me to a football game and later to the locker room where I met the player who would be my host for the evening. He was a big burly linebacker which didn’t help calm the nerves of this already very nervous high school senior.
After he got showered and dressed, we drove to a place where there was a party going on and the refreshments were not donuts and orange juice. I was invited to participate in the “party” but declined and found a soda machine instead. I so badly wanted to fit in with this college crowd and felt a lot of pressure to join in. Soon I dismissed myself with the excuse that I had a lot on my mind to consider and wanted to get back to the hotel room.
The issue was simple; I didn’t drink. I did not belong to any church at that time. My parents were casual drinkers and we even had a bar in our home. Most of my friends by this time drank. I went to parties and dances with them and had fun and laughed with them and sometimes drove for them; I just didn’t drink.
This was a personal choice that was inscribed in my heart for some reason. I think athletics might have had something to do with my not drinking because I was pretty serious about working out and playing college football. However, I think it went much deeper. I believe that, though I did not go to church or say prayers or have any relationship to speak of with Deity, I just felt in my heart that it was wrong and He expected better of me.
I was also recruited to Princeton to play football and once again the opportunity to party was placed before me as a recruit. I politely declined. I was eventually accepted into Princeton University where I created life long friends, worked in the on-campus pub (making pizzas), and generally had a great time. I just didn’t drink.
It was interesting that at one point when I was a freshman in college and had my friends from Florida visiting and partying, I called Dad and told him that I was getting ready to have my first drink and I wanted a recommendation on what kind of drink I should have. He surprised me and simply said “ Aw son, you have come this far. ..don’t start now.” This advice came from the man who had also at one point invited me to share a drink with him. I am quite sure that I would not have gone through with it anyway but to hear him say that made me even stronger.
A HighFive Your Life principle is that in order to follow your convictions when the challenges are tough, they must be written in your heart. Doing things out of obedience or duty is okay. When it is written in your heart, however, nothing will make you change your mind. You will have the courage to stand by your convictions regardless of the storms of opinion that surround you.
As a parent, I have tried to make sure that I did what I could to help my children get the same heartfelt convictions so that when they are on their own they have the strength to make their own way. There are many things that I do out of duty and obedience and just plain decency and those are important. What strength I have, however, is found in my convictions. Find what you believe in and let your heart own it. If and when it does, you will possess strength that nobody can ever take from you.
HighFive Your Life Principle: Your strength of conviction comes when your belief is written in your heart. Fear, insecurity and weakness are overcome; they are in fact dispelled when you own your belief.
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