I write from a sunny gate lounge in Milan’s Malpensa airport. I am returning to Edinburgh after a whirlwind Italy trip with dear high school friends. Adventure makes an excellent pastime — but now it’s time to head back to life as normal and finish the last couple weeks of my second semester. I cannot believe how fast time has flown. By mid-April I’ll be finished with my masters’ coursework and will only have a dissertation to complete before obtaining my degree.
A seeming constant state in my life, transition looms near and the future is uncertain. Which brings me to the item on which I’ve been reflecting and wanted to share in this post.
I’ve desired an imagining of “success” for a long time. Snippets float through my daydreams — business cards and itineraries, five-year plans and prestigious contacts, offices and formal events, publications and colleagues, audacious goals and the resources to achieve them. The last payment on my students loans. Reminiscing shabby dwellings and beater cars but having the option not to deal with them. Catalyzing significant change; changing landscapes; building people.
And more recently, versions of the vision seemed to sharpen. Coaching for the NBA or for a high-level collegiate program in the States. Leading a national basketball federation through overhaul to excellence. Taking a country to the top of the basketball “charts”. Creating a coach training academy and helping rewrite sport coaching. Each sounds pretty amazing and impressive.
The problem is this: as I stand in yet another corridor trying door after door, I’ve had an inkling that I’ve perhaps begun to ignore the one voice I need to hear and the one opinion that should matter to me more than anything. Lately, I think I’ve been pitching my desires to God and assuming that He’s onboard. And this week I’ve found myself, after yanking on knob after knob in frustration, suddenly stopping to catch His eye and ask what gives — and receiving back, perhaps, a hint of amusement.
Perhaps I’ve realized the extent of my folly and perhaps I haven’t seen the half of it yet. But a revelation resulting from this particular go-round has struck — I’ve been chasing an insatiable and desperate desire to achieve “success,” whatever iterations of that I may have been holding at any particular point along the way. God has let me chase after it for a long time, spending lots of emotional energy on a rabbit hole. My preoccupation has been exposed as the weight and chain it always was, no matter how I tried to drape it with nobility, responsibility, savvy, privilege, or industry. I no longer want to carry the weight of reputation or others’ perceptions. I don’t want to bear my own prideful disappointment or expectations. I have to let go of my bent on achieving “success.”
I don’t know what it means. I don’t know where I will end up come fall. I don’t know what door God will open. I don’t know if it will look the way I imagined it. I suppose the things I know are these: God is good and is better at dreaming than I am. He knows the desires of my heart and they are safer in His hands than mine. And I know that wherever I am, I was wired to coach, to develop, to build, to work hard, and to work with teams. I suppose all I can do is knock on every door I can, ask Him to open the right one, and then perform to my best in whatever role God places me. Wishing for more than that is a waste of energy and choosing dissatisfaction and resentment over being my best self wherever I find myself. I am asking God for clarity and for wisdom. I’m asking for monetary provision and for a home. I’m asking for deep relationships. I’m asking to be able to coach basketball. What that will all look like and which of those I’ll receive now and which I’ll hope for in the future, I do not know. I have a feeling we’re about to nosedive down another twist on the roller coaster. Here goes nothing.