Friday, January 28, 2011

Strange Waters

Have you ever felt like you had something to write about that is like a heavy weight on your chest that you want to get off, but you can't quite pinpoint what it is? That's where I've been since my last post. I've sat down to write a few times, but was never happy with what I wrote. I'm still at that point. I've been in a very strange mood the since the holidays. I have a lot of things on my mind that are all kind of swirling around in one great big jumbled mess. In spite of that, maybe because of it, I've decided to just forge ahead with this post and see what happens. There's no telling where this might go, which may make it kind of interesting or really pointless. It may be a bit more melancholy than usual, but I guess we'll find out.

Maybe the fact that I'm turning 40 this year has me a little freaked out. I don't feel like I should be that old, not that 40 is really all that old. In my mind I feel much younger, not what I pictured 40 to be like when I was a kid. I like to think of myself as a young, fun dad, but I realize more and more that my kid's friends see me as the old guy in the same way I used to see my friend's dads when I was their age. That's a reality check I was not prepared for and I have to admit is a little shot to my ego. It's that moment when you realize other people see you differently than you see yourself, especially the younger folks.

I admit that I feel very restless lately and find myself thinking a lot about what I've accomplished so far in my life. While I'm extremely busy between work, coaching, church, kids activities, and a myriad of other things, I find that when I do get a moment to rest and unwind, I can't relax. My mind is always going in a thousand directions and I feel like a lion pacing the cage (thank you Bruce Cockburn for the reference). I don't know maybe I'm just tired. Like Bilbo Baggins said in the Lord of the Rings, "I feel like too little butter spread over too much bread."

I find myself thinking a lot about my career and trying to decide if I really want to spend the next 25 years doing what I'm doing now. Don't get me wrong, I have a very good job and am not complaining. I know a lot of people are out of work and would love to be in my position, but I can't help but feel like I'd like to spend my time pursuing something I'm passionate about, not just going to work. At the same time, I know God has placed me here for a reason. I have a tremendous amount of flexibility in my schedule that allows me to be very involved in my kid's activities and that is extremely important to me so I'm not planning any changes that would interfere with that while they're young. I'm thinking more long term once they are all in or through college. But at the same time I'll be 50 when my youngest goes to college and am not sure that's the best time to make a career change so I'm feeling a little caught in the middle at the moment.

Truthfully, the thing I find the most energizing is coaching. I'm privileged to coach my daughter's 6th grade basketball team, assistant coach my son's 9th grade basketball team, and assistant coach one of my daughter's softball teams. There is something very exciting about working with young athletes and watching them progress and grow more confident in their abilities. It's a real thrill when that light bulb turns on and they really start to get it. It's a real joy to watch them play purely for the love of the game and I'm encouraged by their dedication, hard work, and time they are willing to commit. It's exciting to look back and see how far they've come. I'm humbled by the fact that parents would entrust their kids to me and hope that I can teach them about more than just sports. I hope that I can impart life lessons to them that will help them regardless of where their athletic career takes them. But most of all, I hope and pray that I would always model Christ to them in my words and actions. I look forward to seeing them move on to play in high school or some maybe even college and hope that the small part I played in their development helps them at some point along the way. You can bet I'll be following them all closely. Once you've played for me, you're always one of my players.

In the same vein, I've really enjoyed training with my son and teaching him how to prepare himself physically and mentally for football. I'm constantly amazed at how hard of a worker he is and how dedicated he is to his sport. But even more than the physical training, I've enjoyed the father/son time together at a critical time in his life as he moved from middle school to high school and as I mentioned earlier I hope he learned about more than just sports. As he enters into his sophomore year of high school, he's starting to do most of his training on his own or with friends, which is the way it should be. At 15 it's appropriate for him to start to pull away and be more independent and I'm extremely proud of him. I know I drive him crazy sometimes (and probably push him harder than I should) and hope that he forgives me for when I go overboard. The bond we formed during these last couple of years is very strong and while I miss spending that much time together I know that it's time for me to start letting go. It's hard, but I know it's time. As long as he occasionally agrees to play me in a game of one on one (of which I know I'll lose badly) and lets me run him though some drills once in a while, I'll be fine. He is and always has been in God's hands, which are much more capable than mine. I pray that through God's grace we've built a solid foundation for him to grow on as he continues to mature.

With all the things crammed into our schedule, we don't get as much family time as any of us would like. It probably affects our 8 year old the most. Sometimes I forget that she is as young as she is because she acts so mature for her age, but she really needs that time together and I need to be better about respecting that. I think she sometimes feels like she's in the middle of a tornado of everyone else's schedule. It's tough being the youngest, but I never want her to feel slighted and hope she knows how special she is to me.

I believe God is working on me and is probably the reason I've been so introspective lately. It seems as though He usually brings me to these places in my life to draw me closer to Him. I pray that I would be open to His voice and trust Him to lead me where I need to go to accomplish what He has called me to do. Whatever that is.

"Lord you've been leading me besides strange waters,
streams of beautiful lights in the night.
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?" - Strange Waters by Bruce Cockburn

God Bless,