Every Halloween the supermarket where mom shopped in Newark, Delaware held a contest. The store manager challenged local school kids to draw scary Halloween pictures on the store windows using soap. There could only be two winners, a girl, and a boy, and the grand prize was a spanking new bike for each one.
I entered the contest, not because I was a great artist, and surely not because I was overflowing with confidence. Quite the contrary. I dabbled in art as an outlet. And I was so shy and timid that I rarely participated in group activities. I felt more like an outsider than a member of the human race.
But a million times more than I was afraid, I wanted that bike.
My brothers did a number on my old, rickety bike. Every time I’d go to ride it I’d find the seat missing, or the handlebars or fenders. One day the chain was missing. Not gonna happen if I win that new bike. They’ll be lucky if they even get to look at it!
With paper and pencil in hand, I knelt on the living room floor and leaning against the big round coffee table that daddy made, I sketched the best picture a thirteen-year-old could conjure up. Little did I know that I was making lasting impressions on the beautiful pine table. All I thought about was winning that bike.
It was freezing cold and dark, except for the lights outside the store and parking lot. Like a tiny mouse, I stood before the stark, towering window, wondering what I had gotten myself into. Ignoring my doubts and chattering teeth, I removed my glove, picked up the bar of soap and began my masterpiece.
Giggles and laughter pierced the night, warming my spirits and coaxing me through the bitter cold.
About an hour into my drawing, my fingers were so numb I could barely feel the soap. Most of the other contestants were finished and horsing around and scribbling on each others windows, being totally annoying. But I wanted that bike. And I wasn’t going to quit if it took me all night long to finish. Stealing a glance at the boy to my right, his face etched with determination, I knew he wasn’t going to quit either.
Several hours later, I was finally finished. Much to my relief, mom and daddy had arrived, and feeling like the abominable snowman, I climbed into the toasty warm car, wondering if I’d ever thaw out.
The day finally arrived. On the way to the supermarket, my heart pounded with anticipation wondering what the next few hours would bring. With mom and daddy by my side, we stood shivering in the parking lot, anxiously waiting to hear the winners names announced. The sun was shining. The growing crowd was buzzing. And I was dreaming of riding my new bike.
Finally, a tall, slender man walked to the podium. I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing, if he was bald or what color his eyes were. But I can tell you his voice was that of an angel when he heralded through the microphone, “Sandra Baylis! Come and receive your new bike!”
I could have kissed a frog that day!
As daddy carefully secured my shiny blue bike in the trunk, I noticed a boy pushing his shiny new red bike. The same boy who was persistently drawing at my right.
When mom told me that I didn’t win because my picture was the best, but because of my persistence, I was not discouraged. I was not crushed. I was empowered with the knowledge that, in spite of my weaknesses, I have a strong determination to reach my goals if I don’t give up.
My message to you is, never give up. Believe in yourself. And when the going gets rough . . . keep going.