Point to Ponder:
What choices do you make when faced with challenge?
I recently met a man who made a conscious and courageous decision to turn a tragedy into something beautiful. Much like the Journal one month ago titled, Lifelong Impact, he and his family’s brave decision is and will make a lifelong impact in many lives, including mine.
The man is Sid Steinberg. A little over two years ago, Sid’s twenty-year old daughter, Blaine Steinberg, passed away suddenly of a heart attack. What makes this story so compelling is that while Blaine was an incredibly talented, athletic and healthy young woman, Blaine had an infectious and contagious personality and enthusiasm for life, which is what she was known for.
Blaine was recruited to play lacrosse for Dartmouth, but after two concussions during her Freshman year she opted to stop playing and focus her time on her future in sports broadcasting. I didn’t know Blaine, but the people who did know her described her as a passionate fire-cracker whose passion, captivating smile, divine spark, commitment to excellence and desire to be better and work harder inspired everyone around her. From all who knew her in high school, to those she met in college and anyone in between, she impacted everyone.
As a result of her sudden and unexpected death, her family took immediate action and created an organization that would allow Blaine’s legacy to live on forever, but most importantly, the organization will touch and positively influence the lives of young women. The organization is called Live Like Blaine and their mission is to empower and inspire young women to become leaders through fitness and athletics. Their impact in less than two years has been extraordinary. The organization have raised well over $100,000, which is being used towards leadership conferences, sport camps and other programs whose mission aligns with LLB.
While talking to Sid, learning about Blaine, and familiarizing myself with the organization, I couldn’t quite grasp the Steinberg family’s attitude. Despite experiencing the devastating and life-altering loss of a child only two years ago, how are they able to get out of bed in the morning, more less have a constant smile on their faces, uplifting outlook on life and captivating spirits? I let him know how inspired I was by Blaine’s life and he and his family’s resilience, outlook and ability to take something terrible and turn it into something wonderful. Sid looked at me with a warm smile and said, “Neissa, upon Blaine’s passing, Jill (his wife) and I told ourselves we could let this terrible thing define us, defeat us or strengthen us, and we choose strengthen, as the first two are not an option for our family.” Sid then went on to share this, “Life’s path is not straight, as you well know. Blaine’s death has motivated Jill and I to look both inward and outward and we have found some level of peace and a greater level of fulfillment in helping others as we honor Blaine.”
For the past few weeks I have thought a lot about Sid’s words and actions. I am encouraged and amazed by their choices but as I have continued to ponder on letting a tragedy defeat, define or strengthen us, I actually think that is conscious choice we get to make everyday. In all circumstances: good, bad, disappointing or tragic, nothing should defeat or define us, but instead strengthen us.
For example, how often do we stew over something irritating or problematic to the point that it takes over our every thought, affects our attitude and even our health. This could be a break up, divorce, a disappointment, the loss of a job–anything upsetting. If we talk about it all of the time, and can’t seem to move past it, then it wins, it has defeated us and has defined us. Or, let’s flip it to something wonderful, like landing our dream job, a promotion, a marriage or a great relationship, or becoming a mother. Initially, these things will not defeat us, but if we allow them to define us, then they can defeat us because we have given them too much power. And, because nothing is permanent or perfect and everything comes with struggle, there will be a day when the dream job and promotion pass, the marriage or relationship are challenged and your child goes off to college and creates a new life for him or herself. Then, the question we will have to ask ourselves is “Who are we?”
All in all, I’m of the opinion that things, people, groups, titles, our relationships, a job, life’s ups and down, and tragedy are not placed in our lives to defeat or define us. They have been given to us for strengthening purposes, and strengthening purposes only. Whereas, it’s our faith, character, resilience, love for others and how we make people feel that defines us. It’s these things, including our ability to laugh, dance and love that we can hang our hats on and say, “Thank you God, thank you life, it is a good day and I am stronger because of it.”
Enjoy this newly released life-giving song by Justin Timberlake. I hope you will dance and celebrate all that has and will strengthen you!