A Walk-off Homerun

In sports, there is a moment when an athlete can define himself. One of those plays which shows up again and again, and somehow manages to wrap up the essence of a player within the glory of the moment. You’ve seen them countless times, even if you don’t think you have. Michael Jordan hits a fadeaway jumper to put away the title, Randy Johnson picks the corner to complete his perfect game, Wayne Gretzky skating through an entire hockey team and making them look like junior highers (read: American hockey players). In the same respect, there are moments which inevitably define a career more infamously, probably none more than Bill Buckner and the slow roller down the first base line. In an era of juiced-up pro athletes, where inflated numbers can sometimes obscure athletic greatness, there ultimately comes the moment when a player rises to the occasion, and declares himself a champion amongst winners.

Actually, a lot of things in life tend to fit into this paradigm. The more I think about things (and I’ve done a lot of thinking this summer) the more I believe it to be true. Everywhere from academics to business to music, there are people who perform extremely well, and then there are people who perform almost inhumanly well. The more I think about life, and particularly life outside ‘the bubble’ at IWU, the more I feel like a winner among champions. I mean, I have some pretty incredibly talented friends. It seems everyone I know is exceedingly talented and gifted in their chosen vocation, and I feel left out. My friends are applying to top law schools, forging their places in successful businesses, and beginning effective ministries in local churches, all while I sharpen my skills at… pulling all-nighters driving school vans?

Personally, I take the blame for it. I have every confidence in the fact that God has made me exactly as he intended me to be, that’s not what I’m calling into question. And I’m not even saying I’m not good at anything. I’m good at a lot of things. I’ve just never hit a 40-foot sidehill putt to win my Ryder Cup. At least not yet. Honestly, I place the blame squarely on myself. I’m not sure exactly where I missed it, but somewhere between middle school and college, my friends learned to work hard at school, hard at becoming a cut above average; and I tried to be a cut above while working like the average person. No doubt part of my problem was and is the lack of goals. I don’t honestly know what I’ll be doing a year from now, so it’s hard for me to establish a goal to strive for. But beyond that, the real culprit is my lack of hard work. Things have always come pretty easy to me. Easy enough for me to be decent at them, maybe even better than most, as long as they never practice.

So as best I can figure after living with myself for the last 21 and a half years, one of two things will happen. Either I will let the ball dribble between my legs, and end up in second place, or I can decide this year to do things differently. To work hard, and eight months from now when I walk down the steps, degree in hand, I will sit there knowing that I worked hard, and left nothing behind. There’s three years of me left behind on the IWU campus. I have scores of C’s when I could’ve had A’s. And I’m not by any means saying that I’m going to have a 4.0 this semester. I’m quite content with a 3.5 and a lot of extracirricular things as well. That’s not really the point. My point is this: my collegiate career has come to the bottom of the ninth. There are two outs, I’m down by three, and the bases are loaded with my past three years of college. I’m not stepping in and looking for a hit, I’ve done that before. I’m looking for my walk-off Grand Slam, my highlight which gets replayed over and over again. I want to start a trend in my life of living it to the fullest and leaving nothing behind. Leaving nothing behind in my spiritual walk. Leaving nothing behind in my social life. Leaving nothing behind academically, physically, or any of those other adverbial parts of life.

Before I start to get all of the emails telling me I can’t do this on my own, I know that. Look at my past record. If it were up to me, I would be okay with always ending up in second place. This isn’t about me. It’s about the Holy Spirit working in my life. It’s about me feeling like God expects me to do the very best I can at life. It’s about setting a goal to leave nothing behind because the thing I feel I’ve left furthest behind is my spiritual walk. I’m not out to prove anything to anyone. I’m simply deciding to pick up my cross, and die to myself. And I mean it. If it was a half-hearted decision, I would never make it public for you to read it. But it’s out there, you’ve read it, and I’m counting on you to keep me accountable on this one.