Courage to Face the Wind
The scene of the crime: It was a windy fall day on a college football field in northern Iowa. When I say windy I don’t just mean a little gust. It was the wind that blows through the ear holes of your helmet so loud that you can’t hear coach yelling from the sidelines. Or at least that’s how I remember it.
The crime: I was standing on our own 25 or 30 yard line, but in hindsight I should have had my heels on the ten. The exact score has been blocked from my memory because of the events that followed. All I know is that we were ahead by less than 7 points, and it was late in the fourth quarter. That angry breeze I just described was blowing straight in my face, and when the ball left the punter’s foot I just turned and ran. He hit it high and hard and the wind took it. In the rush of running back to get in position to catch the punt I lost track of where I was on the field and ended up on the 4 yard line. The ball slid cleanly through my arms, off my leg, and the other team recovered it in the end zone. That ended up being the game winning touchdown.
After the crime: I was crushed, humiliated, and felt worthless. Side by side my teammates and I had put in hours of work in the off-season, plus the grind of preseason camp and practice, and I had just let them down. I avoided the bus and rode home with my parents. I couldn’t face the guys I had let down. The tears rolled.
I believe that the only true way to identify myself is as a child of God, through the grace of Jesus Christ. Prior to this experience I identified myself primarily as a football player. It had brought me success, happiness, and very little tribulation. This episode was tragic for me, and added to the frustration that football had become at that time. I began to wonder who I was, what I was worth. I then reexamined my faith and found comfort in God’s unconditional love. This love was reflected by my parents and close friends; they didn’t care if I wasn’t successful or made a mistake. They cared that I learned something from my mistake, didn’t let fear get the best of me, and got back out on the field. That leads to another thing I believe; that the love of God provides the courage to get up and try again.
I now identify myself as a child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ. I can now move beyond my mistakes and do so without apprehension, free of the fear of another devastating error. Because of God’s love I can face the relentless wind of life and do my best to handle the punt each time.