I’ll never forget when the announcer called my name, “Up next, Alex Sanfilippo!” my heart dropped as I stepped onto the field. Let me take a step back and give you some context. I played baseball on city league teams throughout my childhood. At the beginning of each season, the city would host a tryout. Dozens of coaches would watch as hundreds of players would be put through a trial to evaluate their skill and overall performance. The coaches would recruit the players to their teams after the trial was complete.
When the announcer called my name “Up next, Alex Sanfilippo!” I stepped onto the field, making my fears at the moment invisible. This was my first year playing baseball in a higher age bracket. I was smaller and slower than most of the kids whose names had been called before mine.
As I began my trial, I was tested in everything from pitching to batting. I struck out when I shouldn’t have. A ball that was hit toward me went right over my head. I couldn’t get the ball to first base fast enough. The only way I can describe my feeling at that moment is inadequacy; I made mistake after mistake. I wasn’t able to complete all of the tasks the way I wanted to. As I finished my trial, I left the field feeling disappointed and defeated. (I was no Benny Rodriguez, that’s for sure.)
I didn’t think anyone would want me on their team. (Why would they?) That’s when something surprising happened. I learned that the team that had won the previous season was the one that wanted me on their team. I can remember thinking, “Why? What did I do that made them want me?”
I never got my answer to that question as a kid. Nonetheless, I was honored to be part of the team.
Years later, God brought this memory back to me, and I finally received the answer as to why they picked me; despite all of my mistakes.
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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained new perspectives on life. I realize now that the trial that I was put through for the coaches to watch was not about completing tasks that I could do. It was about what I would do when I was given a task that I would not be able to complete. Let me word that differently. The coaches wanted to see how I’d respond to a tough situation, not how I’d handle one that was simple.
The struggles we face in our lives and the trialing times we go through aren’t much different than my childhood baseball tryout.
We have an improper view of what struggle and trialing times are in our lives. Many of us fall into a “woe is me” attitude. Believing that your life is so harsh, difficult and unfair is an improper perspective that will hold you back your entire life if you do not overcome it.
Do you want to know one thing that every human on earth has in common? Struggle. We all go through trials. Although our trials are unique to us and no person will ever have the same struggle as you will, we do all have struggles. It’s a guarantee in life. During trials or struggles is when our true colors are shown. The person that you truly are is who you are when you are in a rough time or under extreme pressure.
Have you ever realized that some people always seem to win and get through difficult times while others will spend their entire lives struggling? The difference between these two types of people is their perspective.
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Who we truly are inside becomes magnified during times of trial, difficulty, and struggle.
I want to shift the focus of this post to talk about our perspective, or mindset when we face trialing times. To determine whether you have the correct or incorrect mindset about your struggles, ask yourself this question, “Who am I during times of trial in my life?” If you answer this question truthfully, you can admit that you don’t like the person you turn into. We all turn into someone different when we’re pushed to the limits or are going through difficult times in our life.
The root of the problem is not the trial or struggle itself, it’s actually an improper mindset on what’s actually happening to us. We have an incorrect perspective of what is really happening when we are going through a trial. Let me explain by starting with sharing Webster’s definition of the word trial.
Trial: a tryout or experiment to test quality, value, or usefulness.
This definition sounds a lot like what I was put through during baseball tryouts. In fact, it doesn’t only sound like it, it is the same. If we can shift our mindset from just focusing on the negativity happening in front of us, we’ll begin to treat trials for what they really are. A test. If we maintain the proper attitude during trials, we’ll start to overcome the struggles we are facing.
Back to my childhood example of my baseball tryout once more, it wasn’t supposed to be easy. It was a test of quality, value, and usefulness. The coaches wanted to see what I would do when faced with something that would stretch me thin. Life isn’t always going to be easy, trials and struggles will come our way, the only thing we can do is control our response, not what is happening to us.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:2-3, 12
Trialing times in life may not be the highlight. However, your struggles may be what God uses to bring you into the future that He has for you. One thing that God asks us to do is keep a positive mindset through the trials of life. Pressing on when you are in a trial will bring you to a better place than you were in before it. I encourage you to trust God! Shift your perspective on what’s happening to you. Stay positive no matter what and in the end, you’ll enjoy your life more and God will bless you for the faith you maintained in even the most difficult seasons of life.