“You can do it!” I scream as I bounce up and down in my chair. “Go, Go, Go! Just a little more! Yay! You did it!” As I start cheering out loud I realize I had been holding my breath. I don’t quite know what to do with my hands. They’re shaking a little, so I squeeze them into fists and jam them into the air in victory, trying not to cry.
Who knew a TV show could get me so worked up? Before you laugh at me, let me tell you something. This isn’t just any TV show, this is American Ninja Warrior!
It’s a show that’s encouraging and inspiring people all over the world. Contestants compete one at a time on the mother of all obstacle courses. Each course has several obstacles contestants need to get through. They start out at one of the city qualifiers. If they complete every obstacle and hit the buzzer at the end, they automatically advance to the city finals. However, even if you don’t finish the course, you have a chance of making the city finals. The top thirty from each city go on; after the finishers are counted the rest of the spots are filled with the contestants who made it the furthest the fastest. After city finals, winners go on to national finals in Las Vegas where they will face an incredibly difficult four stage obstacle course. If they complete all four stages, the contestant will win $1,000,000! This course is so difficult that no contestant has ever won the prize money.
What I love most about American Ninja Warrior is the stories of the contestants. Like many other reality TV shows, many of the contestants are highlighted and their stories are shared before their run. Almost every contestant has overcome great obstacles on their journey to be the next American Ninja Warrior.
Most inspiring to me are the people who have overcome great physical challenges and now are fulfilling their dream to be a Ninja Warrior. Just last week I watched Ryan Ripley’s amazing run. Ryan has Cystic Fibrosis. When he was born, his mom was told he wouldn’t make it past five years old. Now he’s competing on one of the most physically demanding courses in the world. Watch his inspirational run below to see how he did!
One Warrior’s success does not make the other Warriors failures. Each contestant runs the obstacles alone; it’s the course they are fighting. At this stage, one contestant can finish the course, hit the buzzer, and go on to the next round…and so can the next contestant!
It’s the same way with chronic illness. We live in a competitive world and sometimes we take things too far. Let’s be honest, how many of us have had negative thoughts about our chronically ill friend who just got good news from their doctor? (Please tell me I’m not the only horrible person out there!) We think it’s not fair. Why are they getting good news while we feel miserable? But friends, this shouldn’t be! Their good news does not make us failures. Next time the good news could be ours, and if it is, don’t we want our friends to celebrate with us?
Everyone is trying to win, yet they cheer for their fellow competitors. I love this. This is biblical. Romans 12:15 (ESV) says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Ninja Warriors have an instant connection with each other because they all want the same thing. They make friends quickly, and when their friend is running the course they’re right there alongside them, cheering them on. They cheer, jump up and down, and scream when their friend hits that buzzer at the end of the course…or they are ready with a hug, a pat on the back, and encouraging words when they fall.
How much more should we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep? As people who love Jesus we have an instant connection with each other. As people who live with chronic illness, we share a special bond. So let’s be there for each other, really be there, in the good times and in the bad.
We’re all at different places in our journey with chronic illness. We will all have victories and falls as we walk our paths toward diagnosis and maybe, just maybe, healing.
Your success doesn’t make me a failure. My success doesn’t make you a failure. Every victory, no matter how big or small, needs to be celebrated with gusto! So what do you say? Do you want to be a Chronic Illness Ninja Warrior? I do!
What victory can we celebrate with you? Share it in the comments and let’s cheer for each other! If you’re struggling right now, share that too, and let us weep with you.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
…a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4