By Tim Tebow
Growth can be painful. It means getting out of your comfort zone. It means getting inconvenienced. But if you don’t grow, you don’t change. And if you don’t change, you stay stuck.
The Bible talks about how we start off in our spiritual journey as babies living on milk (see Hebrews 5:13), but we must grow up so we can eat solid food. Pain, for the most part, is not our enemy. It’s a sign of growth. It’s evidence of maturity.
I was always willing to put my body on the line and accept the pain so I could reap the reward. There were times when I was running drills for football that I’d think my legs were going to explode or fall off.
It was tempting to give in to the pain and quit—it’s not like I hadn’t already pushed myself beyond my limit. But I remember thinking, It’s okay. I’d rather run around this stadium with my legs on fire and be the first one to finish.
I think back to the few times I could have given just one more rep or a few extra seconds, but didn’t. The regret would haunt me for days.
If you are looking for a feel-good self-help book, you should probably stop reading right now. Because here’s the thing: Striving for something and living a life of significance doesn’t always feel good.
Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s outright painful. You have to do the hard things to get to where you need to go. My goal in life is not to be comfortable. It’s to push my limits. It’s to fight for something, no matter the cost.
I remember playing with the Broncos against the Patriots the night in January 2012 when the windchill fell below zero. We were getting slaughtered by New England. Shortly into the third quarter, we were down 42–7.
I’ll never forget getting tackled and hitting the ground, crushed by the weight of five or six Patriots piling on top of me. On impact, I felt my chest snap. I’d find out later I had broken multiple bones in my chest that were connected to my sternum. It was a whole bunch of ridiculousness.
When I got up, I could feel the broken bones shifting and popping. The pain was excruciating. This was a chance for me to make a statement for my team.
See, it’s not just about showing up when you’re winning. It’s about rallying when you’re getting blown out and there is no probable chance of a comeback.[epq-quote align=”align-right”]Pain, for the most part, is not our enemy. It’s a sign of growth. It’s evidence of maturity. — @TimTebow[/epq-quote]I played the rest of the game. Every single snap. Now, I admit staying in the game probably made my injuries worse, but I was determined to stick it out and fight. If I’m going down, I’m going to go down fighting.
You don’t need to break some bones to push through pain. Sometimes it’s just about getting uncomfortable to do what’s right or what matters. I strive hard to impact others for good. I want to show people I truly care.
As I was writing these words this past weekend, I reorganized my schedule and changed around a few different flights just so I could stay an hour longer in Atlanta to watch the first half of my niece’s soccer game.
Now, I love my nieces and nephews, and I love spending time with them. But the fact is, watching a bunch of kids run after a soccer ball is not necessarily my favorite thing in the world to do.
Knowing how much my watching the game would mean to my niece, however, was worth every change I had to make.
I think about my transition from football to baseball. Talk about tough, real tough. And talk about needing to grow and change and improve. I had spent over a decade training a certain way and honing certain skills, and suddenly, I had to drop everything I’d learned to train a different way for a sport I hadn’t played in ten years.
In many respects, I was at a disadvantage. I was driven by this sense of urgency trying to make up for lost time. I had to focus on training in a new way, figuring out what I had to do to excel in baseball, and then do it. I had to figure out my edge and work on it to be at my very best. I’m still doing this. It’s part of the process.
Growth Takes Time
Many people want instant gratification. They don’t want to invest the time it takes to develop relationships, a work ethic, or long-term success in anything.
Wanting the perfect body means getting surgery or starving instead of tweaking eating habits and getting exercise. Wanting a fancy car or a big house means borrowing money instead of waiting and saving. Wanting the high grade means cheating instead of studying.[epq-quote align=”align-right”]Learning how to face and work through the grind gives you the greatest potential of being everything you can be. — @TimTebow[/epq-quote]Work ethic today is underrated. Many people want to go from A to Z without taking any steps in between.
It seems like today it’s easier than ever to be famous. How many people post a video on YouTube or Instagram, hoping it’ll go viral, and if it does—boom!—they’re instant celebrities. Probably more than you think.
I’m not knocking social media or reality TV, but these things often become a way to gain instant fame.
We don’t care how good our music is; we just care how many people listen to it. We don’t care how good our performance is; we just want everyone to come see the show. We’ve created a society that has made people famous for doing nothing because it’s so easy!
And this is what makes the grind of life, the hard work, the tireless pursuit of excellence, the countless hours of practice behind the scenes, the attempts, the fails, and the restarts unattractive.
Sure, there are plenty of people who will reach their goals by skipping steps. But learning how to face and work through the grind gives you the greatest potential of being everything you can be.
I never set out to work the hardest in whatever I did. I just never wanted to regret not being the best I could be by not giving it my all.
There is no instant payoff with growth. It’s not like I train for an hour and see results the next day. I train, and guess what happens next? I hurt. I’m uncomfortable. Sometimes I’m even in pain.
The payoff is in the faith that the training will pay off. I recover and I get better. And then I repeat the cycle over and over and over again.
TIM TEBOW (@TimTebow) is a Heisman winner, two-time national champion, former NFL quarterback, and current professional baseball player in the New York Mets organization. Excerpted from This Is the Day: Reclaim Your Dream. Ignite Your Passion. Live Your Purpose. Copyright © 2018 by Timothy R. Tebow. Used by permission of WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Hear Tebow remind Christians about their identity in this video from Lifeway Voices.