Don’t Give Up

A story to remember
by David Kovacs, LC | Source:
It’s the easiest thing in the world. Just two simple, everyday English words. Give up. We’ve all done it, and we’ve all felt justified in one way or another for doing it. But there’s a chance we wouldn’t have if we had realized that all that was needed was a little more water to make something beautiful spring forth from what we thought was arid ground

Sarah was difficult. She was more than difficult; she was impossible. For her teacher, Ms. Lou Zywicki, she was proving to be the biggest challenge ever faced. Sarah was rude, disruptive, used foul language, and she didn’t trust anyone. This was a girl who had been abused and abandoned – someone who didn’t have a reason to believe that she could ever do anything worthwhile. “How do I reach her?” prayed her teacher. She liked to think that she had a knack for reaching kids like her, but this one was too much.

But all this began to change with something as simple as a writing contest. Sarah didn’t have the slightest idea of how to write a story. The truth is, she could hardly communicate at all.

The best adjective Lou could use to describe her first draft was “raw.” It was raw emotion; a powerful, moving story that had almost no structure and even less restraint. Every day Sarah would drop a new draft onto the desk, staring at her teacher through slitted eyes while tapping her foot impatiently, and every day Lou tried to give Sarah some examples, something, anything to help her improve. It looked pretty bleak. Time and time again she sent Sarah back again to polish it. Time and time again she returned with another draft that was less raw.

A month went by … six weeks … finally, something began to emerge that looked like a story. It still needed a lot of work, to say the least, but it was something.

Something began to change in Sarah too. She controlled her temper more, cleaned up her language, and even did her homework. It seemed that by controlling the emotion in her story, she was learning to control it in herself. The deadline arrived and the stories had to be mailed in. Her story was still far from perfect. Lou knew it wouldn’t win the prize. Stories were being sent in from all over the state from kids who had a handle on writing. “Perhaps this is the next lesson: handling rejection,” Lou thought.

Several weeks later, she found a note in the box to call her friend who was involved in the organization of the contest. There was a second place winner from her class. It wasn’t Sarah. “Could you at least write her a letter,” Lou pleaded. This could be a crushing blow. “Won’t need to,” the answer came, “The judges thought her story was so moving that they made a third place prize, and even chipped in the money for it themselves.”

How many people have there been along our path who have refused to give up on us? Sometimes all it takes for us to believe in ourselves is to know that someone else believes in us. As much as some may try to deny it, we depend on others, and others depend on us. Never give up.

- Information taken from Guideposts, September, 2005.


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