Fight the elements

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

By Nathan Rice

The only lights were from the exit signs that circled the stadium. No one could see the stage, but the crowd was hyped as the music began. Suddenly, two spotlights broke through the darkness that draped the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Multi Grammy Award-winning artist TobyMac stood on the stage in a hoodie, slightly hunched over as if he was fighting the wind from a terrible winter storm.

He began the show with the title track of his latest album as he sang, “This world is up in my grill. This world is shooting to kill.”

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His song continued as snow fell from the top of the stadium, engulfing him in a winter storm further illustrating the cold world around him. The beat of the music increased as he declared that he would fight the elements that sought to destroy him and promised that if he went down, he would go down swinging.

It’s a song to which we can all relate. I doubt there is anyone among us who can’t echo the lyrics that say, “They try to break us” and “make us want to give in.”

The past few years have been difficult for me as a myriad of things have tried to break me. If life was a boxing match, I’d be up against the ropes as my manager prayed for the bell to end the round and my cutman tried to determine what wound to address first.

Sometimes, as TobyMac wrote in the lyrics and illustrated in his performance, we are in a storm and caught in the cold reality of this world. Most of us will be at this point sometime in our lives. The question isn’t if we’ll have times when certain elements of this world try to destroy us. The question is how we’ll respond to those elements.

First, we must decide to fight the elements. It takes courage and determination to say that we are going to “stand up and rise to these elements,” but we must make this declaration if we are going to defeat the elements that try to destroy us. We cannot win a fight in which we refuse to engage.

It’s important for us to recognize the elements we are fighting. Sometimes we are determined to fight, but we end up fighting the wrong things. Therefore, we waste our time and energy battling things that have nothing to do with our struggles.

We’ll never be able to land a proverbial punch if we don’t take the time to determine the elements that are working to destroy us. This step is crucial, and it must be done with care.

An assessment of situations in our lives can be difficult. It will require us to step back to view the whole situation honestly. We should view the situation with great care when our emotions are under control, and we’re able to see the situation clearly.

There are even times when the elements that are out to destroy us are things we’ve invited into our lives. It will take a lot of self-assessment and an honest, unbiased view.

I’m fighting back against the elements, and I encourage those who are struggling in life to do the same. Do not give up, and do not quit. Make sure you’re fighting the elements that have pushed you to the edge.

I can’t promise you that it will be easy. Using the song as a guide, I encourage you to “take a breath” and “exhale slow.” Take some time to “get your head right” and “whisper a prayer like there ain’t no tomorrow.”

I’m going to fight back, and as the song says, “If I go down, I’m gonna go down swinging!”

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at