Growing up, I used to watch a lot of football or soccer. (But let’s be real, most of us on planet earth call it football.) And on the main sports network in most African countries, SuperSport, there used to be ads that would showcase the different leagues and capture the essence of each league. While I am mostly an EPL (English Premier League) girl with Arsenal blood in my veins, one of my favorite ads was for the Spanish La Liga or The Primera División. I tried to look it up but I couldn’t find it, so bear with my description.
The Spanish-sounding voice-over which was passionate but controlled, almost reluctantly emotional yet memorable, said the following words while match clips gave life to the commentary:
“I don’t see the wall, I see the arc of the wall.”
(While taking a free-kick, the “wall” tries to prevent you from getting the ball to one of your teammates or tries to clear the ball if you go straight for goal.)
“I don’t see defenders, I see open spaces.”
(When you’re in your oppositions’ half, defenders, if they’re doing their job, will try to block and tackle you. You need to create space for yourself either to pass to a teammate, or drive forward.)
“I don’t see the goalkeeper, I see the back of the net.”
(When you’re going for a goal obviously the goalkeeper’s job is to prevent it.)
Taking this message and putting in the context of life, I think we can find inspiration. Sometimes life can seem like a series of events, most of which we’re just trying to “make it through.” I mean life is wonderful, stop and smell the roses, appreciate what you have, and laugh even when things are bad. But I don’t like to pretend that life isn’t at least always a little bit hard. And in some ways, we’re never problem-free. Growing up, my parents would always say in the midst of a problem, “If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.” Such is life, I guess. If you don’t have one kind of problem, you’ll have another.
Sometimes we can be in the midst of several problems all at once. Sometimes we just simply have no control and the outcome of a situation is out of our hands. I think while we overestimate how much control we have over anything, the worst kind of situations are the ones in which we feel helpless or simply have to sit and wait. Or maybe we’re trying and we’re trying and we’re trying, but we’re not sure how and when things are supposed to get better. The thought of the future is scary sometimes, and our imaginative minds do not always help; sometimes we imagine the worst.
But I think we have to challenge ourselves to have hope, to face life gallantly, to imagine that whatever we are going through, we will survive. I think we must face the reality of our situations in a practical manner. Yet we must also believe that whatever challenges that we face, have an end. And one in which we will be victorious, in the end. When we drive forward and defenders try to tackle and block us, we must see the open spaces. When the wall confronts us, we must see the arc of the wall. And when we go for goal and the goalkeeper is standing between us and victory, we must see the back of the net.
You get through anything by being brave, even when all you can do is be brave. And you get through anything by believing that you can; that you will. That it’s always darkest before dawn is a fact of my life, not just a phrase I say to make myself feel better. We don’t always make it through things in the way we thought, and sometimes it takes longer than we think it should. But we are always stronger than what we face. And for those of us who believe, we realize that once again, God is perfectly on time.