September 22, 2022, 4:00 PM

MUSIC BLOG 09-22-2022

Strength to the Weary

We had a rule at our house – actually, we had lots of rules. The Spena household was a bit like NCIS’s Agent Gibbs ran his team, without the numbers, we were not that cool. Homework before play was a rule, no one could be in the house when mom mopped the floor. Every bed made every day, preferably before breakfast. The rule that inspires this blog was the no quitting rule. This applied to most everything in life but especially to certain commitments like sports or music lessons. It was never a question whether or not I would take piano, but for my brothers, who were not as interested in piano as I, they had to complete a certain level of proficiency in piano. If they started, they had to continue to book three John Thompson. That magic number was established by my brother Mick. He finished book three, therefore it was the absolute minimum that had to be attained. However, the no quit rule also applied to sports, if you started a sport you had to complete the season, period. You may be the absolute worst on the team, the coach could make you run laps everyday because he hated you, you might be teased un-mercilessly because you are such a klutz, it didn’t matter if you were stupid enough to sign up and the coach was stupid enough to keep you on the team your fate was set.

It was kind of expected that everyone in our family would participate in a team sport. Baseball of course, my dad often coached, or assistant coached. I was able to hit a few long balls every season and by the end of my less than illustrious career, I actually fielded a few balls very well. It didn’t make up for all the fly balls I chased to the nether regions of the outfield, but it held a peculiar kind of satisfaction for me I must admit. I proudly admit to being the star of the bench warmers in my two seasons of football. My prayer life consisted of many moments of me begging God to please not let me have to play! I prayed for the persons who made up the A and B and C teams, that they would remain strong and healthy. For the most part my prayers were answered. I did enjoy the camaraderie and feeling of being a part of the team. The sport that will always elude my reason for participating in was wrestling. My dad wrestled and no one else in the family did. It held a unique place that there would be no other Spena male competing against me. When you have three brothers all 14 months apart that alone gives pause. I don’t remember how it came about; I think coach Erickson asked me if I was interested. I must have had a temporary moment of insanity because I went out for the team. There was one loophole in the no quit rule. If you were cut from the team, you were also free from the commitment. I must have expected to be cut because I can’t fathom any other reason to put my self through that kind of torture.

  1. of all, you had to run. For those of you who don’t know, wrestling was created for football players who were terrible at basketball but too good of an athlete to sit off for a season. My school was very small. Coach Erickson needed some warm bodies on the team who would serve as sparring opponents for the real wrestlers. Wrestling starts in the dead of winter. We had to run 30-40 minutes every practice and that was the warmup. After that we went to the cafeteria and pulled out the mats. We did pushups, set ups and another 20-25 minutes of calisthenics and then we started wrestling practice. Coach Ericksons favorite phrase was “the hardest 2 minutes of your life will be the 2 minutes of your match” If I had a cell phone I would have taken a picture of my face. It must have been a look of abject fear, confusion and “where’s the nearest exit?”. After 2 weeks of tryouts I looked with dread on the roster and saw my name. I looked up at the list and saw my name and immediately my head dropped in dread. “Rats, the no quit rule was now in place.” True to my expectations practices were brutal. I never worked so hard in my life and I’m a Spena. To say that I sweated was an understatement. Strangely though, I had fun. I ended up having one friend on the team and it turned out to be a great time. We hadn’t had many connections since we were kids in scouts together, but on the wrestling mats we reconnected. My started weight was about 168 by the end of the season I was a respectable 133. In wrestling you get to wrestling by beating everyone in your weight class on your team or come in second as some schools had more than one wrestler per weight class and I actually wrestled in an official match. My dad was in the stands to see me wrestle and I wish for his sake that I had won.

There were many times during that season that I wanted to quit. Many times, I reasoned that the team would be better without me, many times I felt I couldn’t take another step or do another pushup, but I kept trying. Life is a bit like that, wouldn’t you agree? It seems that the lessons we thought we were done with as young adults come raging back in later years. When I was young, I prayed a lot for God to help me end well. I had no idea the testing required or the toll on me personally the answer to that prayer would make. Paul said, in Galatians 6:9 NIV 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. And Philippians 3:12-13

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Jesus, teaching on the end times says in Matthew 24:13 “He that endures to the end will be saved.”

My dad knew a great truth in the no quit rule. Although there is much to be gained by starting something, we truly only understand and learn when the task is completed. It’s true in music, it’s true in wrestling and its true in life.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I can assure you that a heaping dose the no quit rule is maybe just what you need to hear and it’s definitely what I need to tell myself today. God is using all the challenges and “present struggles” you are facing to do an amazing work in you. It’s a work that you will only see if you do not give up.

Praying for you today,

Blessings,

Marty




Comments

09-26-2022 at 2:40 PM
Kathy Jones
What a tribute to your parents and your endurance for life and never giving up. Thanks for sharing
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