A Good Day

19th of May, 2014

Today was a good day.

Just about eight months ago, I broke my fibula, which left me unable to play football for the first time in my life. I was also unable to run, walk, and jump for the first time as well—at least since my days crawling around carpets as a toddler.

Most of you can imagine how frustrating this would be for someone who loves being active. So much so that I wrote a blog post about it, venting my frustration. It was the first time I had been sidelined. The first time I had been forced to watch helplessly as my teammates went to battle.

Today I put the cleats back on and went back out to practice with my teammates. Today was a good day.

There’s an old adage that says, “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Truer words have never been spoken. For the first time in my life I realized how much of a blessing it was to do something that I REALLY enjoyed and that I was REALLY good at.

See, I had been playing football, basketball, and track since I was a kid. I always rose to the top, enjoyed the challenge and loved the camaraderie. I chose football—or maybe it chose me—and by the grace of God I got a chance to play in the NFL.

There was no turning back. I was going, going, going, like the Energizer Bunny. Going so fast that I never took the time to realize that I am living the dream. And that dream, for a time, was taken away. That temporary setback made room for major growth and maturity in my life, and eight months later I have come out a better man for it. Today was a good day.

Something was different about today. As I mentioned to a friend, “I have the mindset of a starter but the hunger of a rookie.” I mentioned in my first blog post that when I got back, I would stop taking things for granted. I would make the most of every chance I got. I would play, with even more passion, the game I have grown to love.

And though today was the first day, I could sense something different. A newfound joy. A renewed strength. There’s a well known verse in the Bible that talks about something like this: “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Though it may not have seemed that long to some of you, I have been waiting for what felt like a very long time. Today that wait was over. Today was a good day.

I can’t wait until tomorrow. Another day to strap on my cleats and go to work with my teammates. My prayer each and every morning, along with many other things, is that I would seize the day. Because I know from experience that tomorrow is not promised. But I have faith. That though today WAS a good day, TOMORROW will be an even better one.

#LFG

Playing the Back 9

5th of May, 2014

It was a clear, sunny morning in mid-April. The grass was green and the greens were greener. It was that time of year again—the dreaded time when I’m forced to embarrass myself in front of four or five other people for hours on end. The time when I look unathletic, unreliable, and unteachable.

Yes, it was time to play golf.

Most of my golfing experiences take place at charity golf tournaments to which I’m invited to show up, and in some cases, to play 18 holes. I usually choose the former. Not because of time constraints or other obligations so much as fear and inevitable frustration. It’s the fear of being “that guy”—the guy who chucks away at the ground with his eyes closed, hoping desperately to hit something. It’s the frustration of being “that guy” too—when the coaching tips like “keep your eye on the ball” and “don’t try to kill it” seem to go in one ear and out the other.

It doesn’t help when everyone keeps saying, “You’re an athlete, it should be easy for you” or “It’s really not that hard once you get the hang of it.” The worst part is that I usually listen to all the coaching points, but when the time actually comes to move from practice swing to real swing, something else takes over and I just want to hit the ball as hard and as far as I can—you know, to show the other golfers just how good I really am. Obviously, this backfires on me 99.9% of the time, yet I can’t seem to shake the idea that it might finally work.

One day I decided to play a full 18. The first seven holes were the same as usual, with me listening to pointers, demonstrating “beautiful” practice swings, and then missing the ball completely on the actual swing. Frustration levels were high and by the ninth hole I was ready to jet. But I took a moment to reassess the situation and figured, why not practice and hope that by the end it’ll get better? As a matter of fact, it did.

My focus that day was just to make contact. Not to kill it, not to have perfect form—just to make contact. I decided that would be a win for me, no matter where the ball landed. And little by little, swing by swing, I started to get better. I started to see progress. And by the 17th and 18th holes I finally got the hang of it. No longer was I hacking away—I was actually golfing! It was a beautiful feeling.

I share all this with you because it taught me a big lesson. I learned that patience really is a virtue. So many people turn down certain fun, exciting opportunities because of fear and anticipated frustration or embarrassment. For a long time that was me. I was missing out on a lot of good times by opting out of those back nines. I was too busy worrying about the front nine to actually make it to the fun part.

Don’t let that be your story. Don’t let anything or anyone keep you from playing the proverbial back nine in your current situation, whatever it is. See it through. Be patient. It’ll be worth it, I guarantee it.

#LFG