Seemingly while my back was turned, 2017’s end neared and now its last page folds as today’s minutes parade by. Being the exuberant proponent of thought-provoking ice-breakers that I am, I have enjoyed several lively discussions over the past week with various groups of friends and family about opinions and summations of the past year. For me, 2017 has been an interesting one that proved full of surprises. I got to partake in another impromptu tour that took me all across Europe between April and August. At the end of the 2016-17 basketball season last March, I envisioned a thick handful of hypothetical versions of the 2017-18 season (our current one), and they all gave way to a surprise invitation to come back to Chicago. I returned to Moody in the fall only to receive a surprise ending and be shuttled into a new version of reality that will take me far from Chicago. Throughout the year, I met countless new friends and got to rub shoulders with incredible people. I watched friends fall in love, get married, move, break up, take new jobs, make big decisions, and pursue their passions in new ways. I got to spend a lot of time with my immediate family and watched each of my siblings grow, change, and accomplish. It’s been a good year.
Because I love lists, I have been thinking about the things I have learned over this past year and wanted to catalogue them for my own reference so that I don’t as easily forget. (Some of these lessons were hard-earned — I’d hate to let them fall through the cracks and have to relearn them later.) I hope you can enjoy or relate or both.
- There’s always a patient option. I can always choose patience.
- I can choose to live one bite at a time. One step at a time; one response at a time; one day at a time; one success or failure at a time. When I stop focusing on the expanse-less, sometimes seemingly insurmountable future or end-game and simply concentrate on the here and now; on my next step or exertion; everything can become enjoyable, manageable, or possible.
- How much of my time do I spend considering what I can do for God, not wishing/hoping/arguing with Him over what He can do for me?
- Love is a short-sighted, momentary choice. Every moment is a chance to love anew. Every interaction is a chance to start fresh. I can choose to be blinded, crippled, or hindered by the frustrations, judgements, or bitterness I hold against someone or I can choose to leave it at the wayside and love him or her well, the way God loves me every single day despite getting a front-row seat to all the ways I’ve failed Him before.
- God is faithful. Even when I don’t recognize it, understand it, believe it, or feel it. God is always faithful.
Beyond these more meta-level truths, I learned a few things about myself:
- I really like Eastern Europe.
- I learned that it’s not just coaching a team that makes me passionate (though that is still completely the case) — I learned how much I want to coach the coaches. My long-term vision for my life is to be able to invest in coaches and sports leaders and help them better lead.
- After spending so much time sharing, bunking up with others, sleeping on couches and porches and in sleeping bags on floors and in all manner of other fun but relatively unsustainable arrangements, I can so much more appreciate having a little space or room to myself.
- Stretching after exercise is a good and necessary thing.
- I still want to play basketball.
- I would choose being active over engaging in more cerebral, but sedentary, activities. (I don’t think this is a new revelation.)
- Solar eclipses are a lot more cool than I thought they would be.
- I have terrible instantaneous categorical recall. Anyone who has played a card game called Anomia, or has asked me to come up with a song idea for a jam session, knows exactly what I mean.
Now for looking ahead: Here’s a very brief sketch of what I plan to be doing for the next six months. As Moody ended and I began asking God where He might possibly want me to go now that I had no more home and no more job, a connection within InterVarsity (the campus ministry for which my sister Kim works) blossomed into a series of exploratory conversations over the past few weeks. This connection directs the athletic endeavors of InterVarsity’s chapters, equipping ministry leaders to lead groups of athletes on campuses alongside the more conventional undergraduate ministry groups for which InterVarsity is known. After lots of praying and talking to a few area directors, it turns out that the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) has a large athlete group currently meeting that has recently lost its athletic ministry leader to other endeavors. That group needs someone to help lead it for the spring semester and I happen to have the spring semester free. By contriving this connection, God has answered prayers on both ends. (He’s good like that.) So starting in January, I will be moving to Omaha to help lead UNO’s athletic chapter for the spring semester while InterVarsity recruits a long-term ministry leader to take it over next fall.
Beyond the end of the school year, details are much more hazy (though that’s how I usually operate anyway). I am pretty positive that I will be in Lithuania for at least the month of July supporting a Christian college with their summer basketball camps, and will probably spend additional time in Europe seeing other friends and supporting other ministries if the opportunity arises and God leads. For the fall of 2018 and the start of the next basketball season, two opportunities for graduate assistantships of sorts (one in Virginia and one in the UK) are on the table and I’ll continue conversations with both of those parties. In addition, basketball coach hiring season will begin in January/February and I’ll continue to search for other coaching opportunities both here and abroad as the end of this season rolls around over the next two months.
Though I feel like there is always so much more I should or could say, I’ll end this update here. Details are ever-developing and I hope that my coming semester in Omaha brings with it huge opportunities to grow and start off 2018 the way God would lead. I look forward to conversations in person with you sooner than later, and in the meantime, thank you for supporting me and following this crazy life of mine so far through this blog. I look forward to continuing to recount more adventures and God stories as we head into 2018!