Today, I am remembering what it felt like just before kickoff when I played football many years ago for Clemson University. This metaphor describes what I feel like today on July 24, 2009.
This post is not ultimately about football, it is about my life right now at 54 years old and how I physically feel today. Let me describe the feeling first.
Just before kickoff, there were butterflies in my stomach. Do you know what I mean? Not a feeling of fear, but a fluttering of anticipation, nervousness, and excitement all at the same time. My heart would beat about 90 seconds per minute compared to my normal 60. It was anticipation of a game that I loved to play. I had dreamed of, and longed for, and prepared for this moment. I knew who I was and what my mission was. The time for thinking had past. It was time to trust all of the practice, all of the coaching, all of my teammates, and all of my deepest instincts. It was time to let go and react and respond to each and every moment.
I loved being on the defensive kick-off team. Because when the whistle blew for the game to begin, and the ball was kicked, I could run like the wind, find the ball carrier, and do my job.
And today, thankfully I have butterflies again in my stomach. I had almost forgotten what it felt like. Today I am feeling the anticipation of the last third of my career. The ball is set on the tee, I am lined up with my teammates, waiting for the whistle to blow.
I have trained all my life for this moment. No more waiting. It is time to trust all of the practice, all of the coaching, and all of my teammates once again. I know who I am and I know my purpose for being on this earth. What a gift that is!
My life purpose is to create community and connection for the human family when we are going through difficult times.
When people feel like their whole world has fallen apart, that’s where I want to be. When grief rips a person’s heart wide open, that’s where I want to be. When someone feels like God or another doesn’t love them or even hates them, that’s where I want to be. I don’t want to be there so that I can fix it for them. My playing experience has taught me that I cannot.
Thankfully, I have had other people walk alongside me in my life when I have felt like that. And my purpose is to keep the momentum going as best I can.
I have known this purpose deep within my soul since I was called into ministry over thirty years ago. I have tried my best to do it and sometimes I have not done it so well. I have lived out this purpose when I was working within the church, and in an AIDS clinic. There is no difference between the two. None. We are all the same.
And so where will I play the last 1/3 of my vocation? What role will I play? What team will I be on?
The honest answer is I don’t know. I do not know if it will be where I am now, or where I will be going, in my life.
What I do know is I am ready to play. Each and every down. I cannot do it alone. Thankfully, I don’t have to.
And thankfully, this is not about winning and losing. It is about fully living.
So, I take that same deep breath I used to take, and with a wide-open heart I say thank you God for the opportunity to play, and thank you to those of you who have been, and will be my teammates.
This is a faith adventure that flutters like butterflies in my stomach. Something new and exciting is about to happen. I can feel it.
The butterflies have told me so.