While it was a few decades ago, though it doesn’t seem that long, I was in my early days of military education. During that time I had to learn an excerpt from a speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt in April 1910 entitled Citizenship in a Republic. At that age, they were just words. Later in life they became more meaningful. The excerpt is often referred to as the Man in the Arena. Below are the words that mean more with each passing year:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
You can pick a difficult area in your life and these words apply. For me, they became extremely poignant during my divorce. The process was extremely lengthy, trying, and pushed me many times towards just giving up and signing her unfair offers. I was inundated with opinions, some supporting, some questioning. Maybe it was the number of times I read the passage above in an effort to memorize it so many years prior that made the words pop into my head. I was able to see my kids, the relationship and role that needed protecting, and keep moving forward.
When the dust settles, you want to be able to look back and know you gave it your all. There are no guarantees in the courtroom. Many armchair quarterbacks will continue to evaluate your divorce and your actions for years after it’s over. Let them. You are the one in the arena. Your cause is worthy and you should never let the critics erode at your sense of the fight for right and the needs of your kids that kept you swinging.