The whistle was piercing as one of the boys accidentally pushed over other teammate in order to get the ball. Another foul shot. Of course, the crowd was not happy. Some fathers were standing and waving their arms, irritated and screaming down to the referee. Mothers were frustrated at the call, commenting to their friends or husbands. Highland against Madison high, and Madison was catching up.
But I wasn’t focused on the game. No. Nor did I really care about the calls that the refs made.
I was focused on the Highland basketball team.
Those boys were growing up so fast. I recognized most of them. I recognized them because they have been in my home as elementary school boys, playing with Keegan.
Keegan was not playing basketball. He was not out there hustling. Heck, he wasn’t even sitting on the bench, frustrated, planning on how he could be a better teammate and player.
That was a gift of his. Even if he wasn’t the best, he worked harder than anyone else, because he truly believed that he could be the best.
But no, he wasn’t there. Nor was Dad screaming at the ref. Nor was Mom talking to her friend. Nor was Liam sitting there with his game system.
They weren’t there, and that was all that I noticed.
I forced myself to sit. I forced myself to watch. And it worked… for about 15 minutes. The more I stared out into the court, the more I realized the emptiness that I was witnessing. The more I stared, the more I recognized the gaping hole that was once again, searing wide open in my heart.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left. I walked out of the gym, into the crowded hall, shimmied through students and parents (thanks for the skinny genes, Mom,) and out the side door.
And I ran. Out by the drama department. Pass the drama department. Into the parking lot. Through the parking lot. Into the neighborhood next door. I kept running, and crying, which eventually turned into heaving sobs. Those still happen, you know, those heaving sobs. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I walked until I felt too exhausted. I sat on the curb. Stared at the stars.
Orion was staring down at me. So was the Big and Little Dipper. So were all the other constellations that I don’t even know. So magnificent and so vast.
And at that moment, I felt so small.
And the questions started rolling through my brain again.
“Why are they gone? Why am I here?”
And even more recently…
“How can you expect me to do this? How much longer do I have to do this?”
There was only wind to answer me for a little while, making my tears become colder. I didn’t want to go back in yet. I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
A thought came into my head.
“I expect you to do this, because you are of me. I made you to be able to do hard things. Just a little bit longer.”
Did everything become better after that? No, not entirely. No, I did not go back to the game. Yes, I went for a very long eventful walk after that. And I still cried.
But it really struck me.
For though I need to be preparing for the future, I can only really do that by living in the present, savoring each day, and using it for the benefit of growth and learning. When things are hard, we want them to be done NOW. We want to be strong NOW. We want to come on top NOW.
But instant gratification is not the Lord’s way of doing things.
The strongest muscle has to be torn. The prettiest flower has to grow. The strongest testimony has to be tested.
That’s why it’s called a TESTimony.
Everyone is hurt in one way or another. And hurting is hard. And hurting can damage plans and ambitions.
But it doesn’t have to control it.
I hope that one day, I will have that happiness again; that FULL happiness. And I know that I will.
It will just take some time.
And I think I can do it for just a little bit longer.
Questions to Ponder:
- How can understanding the process of growth give you patience in your trials?
- How does focusing on learning and growing today help you keep going?
- How does knowing you were made to do hard things help you to act and keep trying?