Never Give Up

EDITOR’S NOTE: Having a bad day, week, month, or year?

Be inspired by this essay, written by parishioner Jason Morin and published in Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul: Inspirational Stories of Overcoming Life’s Challenges (2012). It demonstrates the triumph of faith and a positive attitude over life’s obstacles, no matter how daunting.

By Jason Morin, parishioner, SS. Isidore and Maria

“You have the MRI of someone in a wheelchair, Jason,” said the doctor, in a voice his profession reserves for severe illness. “Eventually, you may lose your eyesight, coordination, even your bladder control.”

The words hit my wife and I squarely. I was twenty-seven and had multiple sclerosis. I wanted to come to grips with this news, but right now all I could think of was ending this office visit. This doctor offered no hope – and he was scaring my wife and me in the process. I stole a glance at Tracy, who began to cry softly. I reached over to comfort her, my soul mate. We mumbled hurried goodbyes and left.

I was in the construction business along with my dad, who owned the company. We raised buildings from the ground up and it was hard, demanding labor filled with long hours. But I loved it. I had walked the slender steel beams since the tender age of fourteen and probably felt more at home on a construction site than anywhere else. My dad taught me the ropes.

I couldn’t bear the thought of letting him down now.

After I dropped Tracy off at home, I mentioned that I had to stop by the office for something. But actually, I wanted to pay a visit to a place I had known for a very long time.

I sat in the church pew, feeling childhood memories was over me. My eyes were squeezed shut as I anxiously prayed. “Dear Lord,” I said. “I’m not afraid for myself, but I am afraid that I will let my wife and family down – they count on me so much. Please, please help me beat this,” I whispered.

I got up, left the church and hoped that my prayers would be answered. If ever there was a time to keep my faith up, it was now.

A few weeks later, the local paper featured an article in the sports section on a man named Pat. It was like a little miracle had come my way. Pat was a coach at the state college, and had conquered MS with the help of a strict diet.

At last I had found an ally, someone with the same symptoms, and likely the same doubts and fears. Pat and I met and talked for hours about food supplements, vitamins and working out. But these eight words echoed in my brain: “You can do it, Jason. Never give up.”

I started a special diet and workout regime designed for MS patients, and faithfully stuck to it.

There were plenty of dark days, too. Days when I had to ask Tracy to help me finish dressing. Through all of this, she was spectacular, giving me the love and support I needed. I felt so blessed. Gradually, my recovery took shape. In time, the words of the doctor seemed far away.

Finally, I felt ready to set a goal for myself.

The challenge came in the form of natural bodybuilding. I had played football in high school and college, and I was certainly no stranger to the weight room. I began working out diligently with a trainer six days a week. He put me through different weight routines. My goal was to compete in a bodybuilding contest.

A few months later, all the hours of sweat and training brought me to a competition that included one three-minute routine. I found myself in front of an auditorium filled with people.

I completed my routine – flexing, stretching, showing off the body I had fought so hard to achieve – and walked off. As I waited for the judges to tally my score, I spotted my family and friends in the fourth row. When the judges announced that I had placed sixth, I felt a rush of pride and relief. As I took a bow, I stole a quick glance at my family, who were all standing up and clapping and cheering as hard as they could.

Before we left to celebrate at a nearby restaurant, my dad came over and put both his hands squarely on my shoulders. “Jason, I’m so proud of you. As far as I’m concerned, you are number one!” He said.

He looked me right in the eye. “We build foundations in our business, but let me tell you, the real foundations in life are family.”

I hugged my dad tightly then, and as I did, I saw Tracy give me the thumbs-up sign and dazzle me with a smile as big as all outdoors.

Today, Tracy and I are proud parents of two little girls. They are more precious than we could have ever imagined. And every day I remember my father’s words: The real foundations in life are family.