Imagine myself in a tree…
Meaning, for the time you’ll need to imagine a 6’3, skin and bones red headed teenager lodged up in a small tree on the campus of a university.
Cell phones weren’t popular, and e-mail was slowly growing. I was armed with a red pen, a summer breeze, a Bible, and a tablet of paper. I started writing, looking at versus and tying them in ‘my way’ into a thought process that would stay as a theme for the week. Something about being able to find strength on a Sunday in order to prepare myself for the week ahead.
I named it “Strength Week”.
I had started this concept at a summer camp that I frequented in junior high and high school named “Super Summer”; put on by the Missouri Baptist Convention [try not to hold that against me]. One of the many times I was at this camp I came up with this idea of keeping a journal of one entry for the week. Almost a weekly devotion. However, I wanted to share it with others.
My friends, I assumed, would think I was weird, but on the e-mail system I should be safe. Because of this I created a weekly list [before e-mail programs actually stored lists] of people that I would share that e-mail with. This was my first taste of social media [Facebook hadn't been invented yet and MSN IM was still popular] as I learned that people would read the entry, then forward it to their contact list, etc…for a fifteen year old that was pretty neat. However, like all things of teenage years, I soon grew too busy [especially in the school year] and failed to keep up with my “Strength Week” articles.
I wish I had the e-mail address of that 15 year old boy so I could get a copy of one of those e-mails…
Personally, I would rank this past week right up there with the week my wife left me, the week I ran out of money, the week MC was diagnosed with cancer, and the week my first girlfriend broke up with me. It’s been an awful week. It’s been awful primarily because of tonight’s conviction on the reflection of my behavior and attitude in the past week. If you ever want to know where Satan can latch on and drag down a Christian, I encourage you to develop your own business, and then try to stick to a Biblical standard of code and conduct.
Enjoy the fireworks.
I was sitting at MoVal this morning, dead to the world, when one of the church elders came up to chat. Now, our elders range in age, so this is not an old man with a cane that’s poking at me. This is a guy with a relatively young family, business owner, who just enjoys life. He started talking to me, making note that I looked exhausted, and worn out.
I honestly could have broken into tears right there. I’m fearful to tell people that I’m worn out of because of the fear of them assuming that I really don’t work that hard. It felt like forever to get my parents to understand that I didn’t just have a hobby, I had built a business. However, when you’re not trading stocks, making sandwiches, and teaching classrooms of children it can be hard to quantify what a ‘business’ really is; especially when work involves doing what you love. So, for a while I’ve tried to keep it under wraps and just not talk about it. Not bring up the pains in my back and neck, not mention the headaches, or how I can easily sleep all day. I’m scared to bring up the sorrow and fear I have at night trying to find answers in the world of business. I’m terrified to even speak about the doubt that I deal with on how God is going to provide. I’m so scared that people will place me as a dramatic individual who is looking for attention, and doesn’t know what “real work” really is.
However, after speaking to this elder, and listening to my girlfriend repeatedly telling me to go home and reset today; I’m typing this message out of guilt, shame, and a convicted heart of struggling as a Christian. When the fear comes in that people believe that I’m not working hard, or that I”m not doing enough, when I’m scared to speak up because of what the world may thing, it points out an evident, painful sin: pride.
So, in the event to squash the pride and shed some light into my world; I’m typing this message tonight to simply make this claim:
I am absolutely exhausted. It hurts to stand up and move from my office to my bed. I don’t sleep at night, and I work all day. I try to get duties at the gym in, and eat respectfully. Realistically; I am failing at all of it. I. Have. No. Strength.
This is a evidently longer post, and I apologize for that, but as this is my website I have the ability and right to type the night away. I think the best way for me to illustrate what exactly the convictions of this lone mans soul is, is to be able to send out apologies to those who have been wronged by my behavior in recent days [strongly reflecting on the past week]:
I didn’t think there was anything in the world that could cause me to become as bitter as I was when my ex-wife left my life. I really didn’t. Because of that, it isn’t overly surprised that I was proved wrong this week. To bring everything into the light, I’ll go this route: In February of last year I decided to build a women’s soccer program in Kansas City, a premier team that worked with college and post-college players in hopes of giving them something to look forward to after college. A life of a player past the years of the NCAA. Massive blueprint, schematics, hopes, and dreams. I had an overwhelming belief [and still do] that this is my mission field, and this is the route that God wants me to take. However, that doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy, and it most definitely isn’t. In July of last year I was notified that another women’s program was coming into Kansas City, by November that program was announced. It is supported by a successful business owner in Kansas City, and backed by the US Soccer Federation. It crushed me over Thanksgiving. I believe in honesty and transparency, and if I told you that I hadn’t considered worse case scenarios at that point; I’d be lying.
I struggled with hate, I struggled with questions, I struggled with a potential [and volatile] fan base. Kansas City is growing from primarily soccer team in 2012 to seven in 2013; us being one of them. Financially, league strength, and support; we’re as one of the media relations of Kansas City stated, “the low-man on the totem pole”. I haven’t felt so damaged, flawed, and laughed at since having my pants pulled down at recess in elementary school. What can a 25 year old, who lived in the back of his truck, do in the soccer community dominated by the ‘big guns’ of the media image? It’s a question that plagued me, there are connections, and resources that were lost. And the whole time, through media, social media, and interaction I had to keep face, be polite, and try not to show intimidation. After all, as so many people of the Kansas City soccer community put it, “We’re completely different compared to the other program.” Each person that told me that, put yourself in my shoes, that’s all I’d ask.
I would rant, rave, and continue to my tantrum but the reality is that, that isn’t what this is about. This is about the conviction of my heart, knowing that as a Christian, regardless of business and competition, and know that it is in the wrong spot. Competition can bring out the worst in us, and it has been seen sometimes through social media, and sometimes with media interaction, and I can promise you that there are people within the last week that have spoken to me, and walked away thinking, “Really? That’s a Christian? Ouch…”
I am not perfect, but I can be much better then what I’ve allowed myself to be in the past week. For those in the soccer community that have found the free time to read through this post; while it directly affects, indirectly, or if you honestly don’t give a flip; just know as an owner of a women’s program that was to “grow the game”, even before the season has started for us: I have let you down, and while I’m still growing and learning the in’s and out’s of the business world, I only ask that even if you give up on me; don’t give up on the dream of what this program was designed to do: being a shining beacon of what happens when entertainment, community, and innovation come together. It’s much more then just 11 players on a field.
This one hurts a lot.
Amazingly, to show off God’s grace, even though I went through a tragic, painful divorce in 2011; I was given the opportunity and the blessing to fall in love with a wonderful woman. Anyone who has been around us knows that our personalities can create a very polarized atmosphere that isn’t always the most…welcoming. However, she has never, and I sincerely mean never, given up on me.
I’ve told her my fears, she knows my past, she knows I was left in the dust [not saying that I didn't deserve it] with nothing. She accepts that I’m not rich, and even embraces that psychotic soccer store that is making itself known. I’ve been sick twice in the past four months, each time she has taken time that she could use to do everything else she wants to do, and took care of me. My coffee gets brewed in the mornings, and even though she works at Starbucks, if the day is going in a specific direction; she’ll pick me up a large drip from Dunkin Donuts. She thinks the world of me. Always makes an effort to hold my hand at MoVal, and gets ticked if I don’t kiss her goodbye when we go our different ways for the day. My girlfriend is an amazing cook, even though she won’t admit it, and works her tail off for a better life. At 19 she’s already looking at promotions in the corporate of Starbucks. She balances my nightmare of a life, with her online college education, paying the majority of the bills for where she lives, and even helps her mother with her bills. Her life revolves around babies, coffee, and learning more about her newly acquired Christian faith. She tries sushi, even though she hates it, just to try to make me happy. She’s a woman that ever man should dream of meeting.
And I fail to tell her that.
I’m so selfish, focused, and conflicted with the direction of my life that I’ve failed to remind her of how beautiful she is. I haven’t taken a split second to kiss her on the cheek. I’m yet to bring her flowers [though she's told me she doesn't need them...this brings about confusion], and we haven’t had a ‘date night’ for several weeks. As much as it haunts me, I wouldn’t be surprised if at night, while frustrated with me [for good reason] she thinks, “Yes, I see why his ex-wife left him.” I wouldn’t blame her, I wouldn’t be upset either.
To my girlfriend, the woman who frequently speaks of what life will be like when she’s my wife, I owe you my heart.
This easily hurts the most.
I have been to rock bottom in life; I’ve witnessed it. I have noted what it is like to lose absolutely everything. It was only then did God begin to say, “Now I can show you what I can do”.
As the site has grown over the past year and a half, the concept remains the same: God does amazing things with very regular people. The soccer program that He’s allowed me to have should be enough to represent that. However, He doesn’t stop there. He brought me home, He gave me a new life, an incredible job at Subway with a staff that supports the Kansas City Shock. He gave me the welcoming body of Missouri Valley, and a pastor that could look see the sins of my past, and still welcome me in. I’ve traveled more in 2012 then I have ever; including Los Angeles, Guatemala, Baltimore, Dallas [twice!], and Washington, D.C. Not to mention Las Vegas in two weeks from now, Boston, and a summer full of excitement. I’ve been given friends, both old who didn’t give up on me, and new who are still wondering what I am. He’s given me excellent health, a new body, and ambition for a new life.
I have no excuse not to give praise where praise is due.
I’m shamed because I struggled last week to tell a random business owner that God has blessed me in amazing ways. I’ve failed to stay reading the Bible on a daily basis, and my mind hasn’t remained focused on Him. I’ve been hateful, spiteful, and painfully egocentric. I may have said one thing, but I traversed mentally into the realm of, “Look at what I have done.” I’ve been dishonest, a politicians, and most painful of all; I’ve manipulated people…again. The one thing I said I’d never do again. I’ve looked in the mirror and saw that worldly business owner, I’ve had nightmares of the earthly politician, and I cringe typing this knowing how close I’ve come, once again, to my own destruction.
WHEN WILL I REALIZE THAT THE IT IS NOT MY OWN STRENGTH, AND MY OWN DOING? WHAT MORE DOES GOD HAVE TO DO TO SHOW THAT?
To my Father, the only One capable of doing the unimaginable, the awe-inspiring, and demonstrating never ending love, I’m a fallen human in a sinful world, and by Your grace I’m saved, but I need guidance and grace now, more then ever. I. am. sorry.
Perhaps it’s the complex of pride and lack of patience that has cast me into this spiraling world of doubt and destruction. Even though my reputation is tarnished, and my attitude has been poor, especially in the past week, the goal still remains the same: when I’m gone…as in dead, whatever it is that I end up doing, as cheesy as it sounds, it has to be 100% truth:
My tombstone better be blank, because whatever I’m to be known for better be given as a sacrifice of my first fruits to my Father.