This year, the first day ritual was anything but routine to me. Last year they started their first day of school without me, while I laid in a hospital bed unable to get home, a pulmonary embolism clogging my lungs. I saw pictures of what I missed that first school day through text messages and I didn’t get to talk to them when they got home to see how their day was. My middle son was starting his first day of high school, my daughter was starting her first day of middle school. That was a milestone year for them, and it wasn’t a year I wanted to miss out on. I wanted to give them a hug and tell them to have a great day. I didn’t want to add onto the worry of a new school that their mom was pretty sick.
If I was given the option, I would have met this day for this year with a victorious declaration of health and joy at moving forward. That was the plan anyway, a year later I had all the hope in the world that I would have all but forgotten last year’s unfortunate start. But we aren’t given choices in our circumstance all of the time. I instead, faced this morning quite ironically with another blood clot, more scary medicines and injections, feeling ill and exhausted, scared and confused at why this was happening again, but thankfully, able to manage it at home and not in the hospital.
It’s in these moments that we must find the choice inside of that circumstance that feels like it has no options. I cannot change my situation, it is the path that I am on and will continue to be on as my body and my doctors figure this thing out. But inside of that unmovable wall of circumstance, are indeed choices- and this morning I chose to feel intense gratitude at seeing my kids off to school, and even more intensely grateful to be alive and having so far survived what so many others do not. As I head off to get my Coumadin levels checked and possibly another chest CT, I am holding onto the faith that my God is molding me further, stretching me, and teaching me contentment in a world that almost no longer knows that word.
When I get too many things going, He always knows how to slow me down, get my attention and highlight what’s important. So this morning, amidst chaos, challenges, and admittedly a little bit of fear, I am letting gratitude rule the day. I stood on my front porch watching my kids walk down to the bus stop, a privilege I was not allotted last August.
Whatever challenge you are facing, find the piece that belongs to you, however small it may seem, that you are able to use for good or as a tool to grow. I can suffer through what seems to be another insurmountable challenge or I can wake up every single day and celebrate my ability to see another sunrise, hug my kids and have a job that I love to do. There are times where I am having a difficult season coaching, or struggling to really comprehend what my purpose is here with these kids that I’m training. There are days I feel I have nothing left to give, where I feel I’m not making a difference at all, where defeat creeps into my soul. But as I go through each hurdle, I aim to choose gratitude for the opportunity to get it right. There hasn’t been a challenge yet that hasn’t stretched me to be better, no heartbreak that hasn’t forced me to look inside my heart and mind and be honest about where my convictions lie. No mistake that hasn’t, in the end, taught me to be a better person with a better and stronger message.
Of course I don’t walk around shouting how happy I am to face difficulty, sometimes I get angry, frustrated, scared, fed-up. But I have found that seeking the greater lesson in all things, believing that everything that I face is for my greater good, keeps me from ever getting pulled completely down into the negativity – ultimately it brings me to an even better place than before.
When we coach, our players are facing a pile of issues a mile high. Some serious, some only seemingly serious to the small world of a teenager and their lack of the aerial view that we have as adults. If there is a message that we can pass on that will make them more successful on the field, at practice, with their relationships, and in their studies, and build our culture as a team: it’s that we must find the purpose and the growth in our struggles to become better. We cannot allow a fleeting moment in despair, frustration, anger, failure, or disappointment become place of residence. Focus on the lesson, the opportunity, feel the growing pain of the stretch and then let it make you bigger and better than before.