Participation Revisited – COVID 19 Induced Perspective on Sports

    “Just get rid of those. They won’t want them.”, my husband of 39 years said as we came across storage tubs of mostly “participation” trophies belonging to our sons while preparing for a move.

      As I sorted through them, memories from our good years as a “baseball family” came flooding back.

     This was just prior to this sports-less world we find ourselves in due to Covid-19. Who could have imagined something so much an integral part of our way of life would be gone quicker than you can steal second base? The world seems hardly recognizable when thinking of empty stadiums and athletic fields. Our local paper ran an article listing what sporting events would have taken place this week. Instead of sports coverage, there is coverage on coping with COVID19.

     Will sports participation, once we get it back, no longer be a given but something for which to be grateful?

      It is ironic, given my early years, that I would write about ballparks in any kind of a positive way. I was that girl in gym class who was always the last to be picked for any kind of a team sport. I could hardly run at all and found out years later that my feet are sort of a mess and I could have used some orthotic assistance. My mom, thinking she was sparing me humiliation and embarrassment, wrote note after note: Please excuse Donna from gym class today. She is not feeling well. My confidence dwindled until I never wanted to try for fear of failure.

     In my neighborhood, extra-curricular activities did not happen at a ballpark but on our city sidewalks outside our apartment building in the heart of South St. Louis. We lived across from a gas station and a bowling alley with a neon sign that I watched flash in my window in bed at night. There was a bar on the corner.  Circling the block on our bikes and hopscotch games with the neighborhood kids on the sidewalk- that is what I did. We spent much time at my grandparents who were in survival mode as generational poverty seems to make it go for folks. I did not know about youth sports teams, summers loading up the car for a day of ball, drinking Gatorade and disputing umpire calls.

     This changed when I was in middle school. The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team had a program honoring good grades. Middle school students who qualified were offered free admission to games at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. Making good grades, except for gym class, was something I was good at. I was offered a card which I carried with me for years, I was so proud.

     My mom dropped me off at Busch Stadium. I was alone, but I loved every minute of the game. I loved the cheering of the crowd. I loved the concession stand smells- the hot dogs and popcorn and the game itself. I loved feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun and the stadium, the biggest place I had ever been. I knew then that while I might never be a strong athlete, I could enjoy rooting for others and loving the game of baseball.

    Is it any surprise, then, that I married a baseball player?  The first time I went to see him pitch, what stands out in my memory are the sounds at the ballpark. The crunch, crunch of players spikes on the asphalt as the players made their way to the field is still a sound that brings back pleasant memories. The crack-ping sound of the ball hitting the bat during warm-ups was a sound I loved.

   Along came two sons and we were packing it up and headed to the park as soon as they could play. One spring, our house burned, and our son’s 1st grade teacher, Jenne Thompson, replaced his glove and cleats out of her own pocket. I remember the young outfielder whose only focus was the bubble gum he was chewing, watching the bubble he was blowing grow bigger as the ball rolled right past him. “Pay attention and spit that gum out of your mouth!” the head coach shouted. It was straight out of the Bad News Bears.

      One week I spent 67 innings wrapped in a sleeping bag during the cold start to the season, but by the season’s end we were packing coolers of cold drinks and sandwiches.

     In high school, away tournaments were family vacations. We made ammonia water rags for the boys to cool their necks and moms unpacked battery operated fans to use while kicked back in our lawn chairs in shorts and sandals. We won a World Series, a State Championship and earned college scholarships but more importantly, we knew where our sons were most of the time and they were surrounded by people who cared about them. We were not home together eating dinner around our table most nights, but we were together and that is what counts most.

       Staring at the trophies that day, I realized having the chance to “just” participate meant someone cared enough to make that happen. In this case, my husband and me.

      These were, in effect, family participation trophies. Yogi Berra said, “Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.”   Though my husbands and my athletic experiences were in stark contrast to each other, we came together to provide those opportunities for our children and that is a beautiful thing.

     As I reflect on this, we find ourselves in a sports-less world. Will the opportunity to participate be more meaningful once we are free to play again? Will we appreciate the power sports have to bring people together in all kinds of ways? As I hear that crack-ping of the bat hitting the ball in my mind I believe the simple act of participating may never seem so good.

I am keeping those trophies.

YOUTH

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I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at the YMCA, having just finished my exercise. I was a sweaty mess and leaving to go prepare dinner. 

I was asking myself was it a positive or negative that I could now park in the “55 and Over” parking section of the Y parking lot when I looked over into the car next to me and a very pretty, very elderly woman,  caught my eye. I am guessing she was in her 90’s.  She was looking in the rearview mirror at herself. Looking this way and that. Examining. I sat and watched her dig for her lipstick. She applied it ever so carefully, looked for a tissue, blotted it with care. She then checked the mirror again, looking this way and that. Examining. Then she drove away. 

Being a photographer at heart who seems to walk around viewing things as if looking through a camera lens, I wished I had my “good camera”, as I call it, and somehow could have asked permission to take her picture looking in the mirror and applying her lipstick. It seemed such a beautiful, personal slice of someone’s life that I did not know and likely never will.  

I am finding myself examining “this way and that” as I look into my lighted make-up mirror I use to get ready for the day. Last night, my bedtime reading turned out to be “Makeup Pointers for over 50”.  Then I fell fast asleep before I could start my reading that I intended to do. I hope this does not sound vain; I do not think I am. I just do not want to be using non-age appropriate makeup techniques. 

I am reminded I am not thirty sometimes when I try to keep up with the energy level of my two sons, their wives and children. I can still hold up ok though. 

I read once that we should all be the best at each age we can be. We should not look back or be envious of those younger because we had our time to be that age and now it is theirs. So, I try to be the best at each age I can be. 

I LOVE the essay below and the definition of youth it provides. After I post this blog, I am going to hang it up next to my light- up, magnify -your- every-pore-and -more makeup mirror. 

Keep the Faith #ktf

#thisearthlyjourney

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Youth

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep spring of life. 

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty, more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by the number of years; we grow old by deserting our ideas. 

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. 

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and power from men and from the Infinite, so long you are young. 

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with the snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there’s hope you may die young at eighty. 

Author: Samuel Ullman (April 13, 1840 – March 21, 1924) was an American businessman, poet, humanitarian. 

From one overcomer to another…

Hi! I am Donna Moffitt, overcomer. As we travel along this earthly journey together, you are an overcomer as well. What came to mind as I was thinking of this first post was one of those paper chains that we made as children. The ones out of construction paper mostly around Christmas time to hang on the tree. Each piece is connected and wrapped around another building on the one before.

 Overcoming is like that for us. We are interconnected and wrapped around each other in all sorts of real and figurative ways.  We often go from being the overcomer to helping someone else become one just like the construction paper chain which is intertwined, connected and loops around. And that is how we travel along through this life. Perhaps an over simplified life analogy but one that works. 

Booker T. Washington is attributed with one of my favorite quotes: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” 

I have shared this quote with the teens at Preston Taylor Ministries where I volunteer a number of times. I tell  them that I believe they may have overcome more obstacles to walk across the stage to get a high school diploma than most U.S. presidents have overcome to become president! Homelessness, fathers who walked out or they never knew, the lack of resources that comes with generational poverty and two had cancer and more!

According to recent research teens from all demographics are experiencing anxiety at all-time high levels. Why are they and what can help them?

How do we measure success as Booker T. referenced it? How should we?  How is it that some folks who have been through trials that would break many of us keep going? Why are there those who can’t go on and choose to end their journey on this earth, (in simple terms, the construction paper chain broke for them)?  What can we learn from the stories of others that can help us overcome? 

Again, we are all overcomers because we live in an imperfect world as and with imperfect people. 

Through sharing stories of overcomers from all walks of life, good thoughts, and good research I hope to bring inspiring material about all things related to overcoming your way. Stay tuned…

My good friend, Roosevelt, ends his emails with “Keep the Faith” from which a group of us have adopted the hashtag: #ktf – I will borrow it for this blog and end with:

Keep the Faith #ktf

#thisearthlyjourney

Donna

Life Navigation: Words to Remember from my Father

He has a genius IQ and street smarts to match. That is my father. I am thankful for the things he taught me. Things that have made me a stronger person and that have helped me navigate the world.

He wanted a better life for his children than he had. I am thankful because his life was difficult growing up poor and chopping cotton in the hot sun.  Our life has been better.

That, in turn, made it easier to give my children a better life than I had.  

We are in a good place but at times have not done so well.  Some say we are too much alike; code for “strong-willed” and “stubborn”. We are good at “sticking to our guns.” 

Some of his valuable thoughts on navigating life:

Unless you are nearly dead you go to school and to work. Of late, I have been struck by people of all ages who do not know the importance of just showing up. 

You work hard not because someone is standing over you but because that is just who you are and what you do.

Money is only important when you don’t have any. 

Everyone needs to wake up every day with something to do and something to look forward to or you will die. 

You should know, without a doubt, someone knows what they are talking about or do not believe it and keep asking questions until you find correct information. I am sure he has never heard the phrase “critical thinking skills” but taught them to us to the max. 

Gather all the facts before you decide.Be careful about what you say you will do. If you say you will do it, it should be as good as done. 

Complete your education. It is something no one can take away. Life is much harder without it.

Do not go in debt except for a necessity which is basically a house and a car.  It is no fun to have your money spent before it is earned. Debt is a bad cycle to find yourself in. 

Be careful what you go looking for because you might find it.

 Sometimes, “the more you stir crap, the more it stinks.’ Basically, be careful about “stirring the pot.”  I have thought of this many times when deciding whether to speak or remain silent.

At times, moving forward in life involves taking risks but you must take them sometimes.

Think big picture. The decisions you make do not just involve you but affect others as well.

 Do not give up until you have tried everything. Especially, do not give up because someone says it cannot be done.

Teens need boundaries. Curfews are good. And no one is ever old enough to watch “R” rated movies. As an adult, I have been thankful for those boundaries I protested loudly about as a teen.

If you miss church, watching “Touched by an Angel” is a surprisingly good substitute every now and then.

Do not ever think you have to keep doing things the way they are always done. Learn why they are being done that way.

If someone has two or three true friends in a lifetime, they are lucky.

If you are worried about using the wrong fork or other etiquette failures, just be yourself. That is always best.

Don’t let impressing others be your motivation for doing.

The older the violin, the sweeter the music.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all who are doing this important, beautiful, and life-altering work. Stay encouraged and hopeful. You are changing the generations with each teachable moment. 

Keep the Faith #ktf

#thisearthlyjourney

 

 

How I Learned Not to be Color-Blind

“I don’t notice skin color. People are just people to me. There are good and bad people of every color and I try to think about the hearts of people.” In my younger adult years, I used to feel great about sharing and thinking this. I even wrote an Op-ed column that was published in The Tennessean newspaper about this very thing.

I thought not noticing color is what good people who are trying to love others do. In the Bible, God says to Samuel when Samuel thought God should choose David’s brother over David for King, “Do not look at his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. God does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible but the Lord sees the heart.” This verse was one of those that always spoke to me. I thought I was doing what God would want when I bypassed skin color to see someone’s heart instead.

There was much I did not know then. To be honest, at that time I had few black friends only because those relationships did not organically happen in my circles of connection when I was the busy mom of two young boys.

I had not listened to black youth share about their homes, neighborhood, public schools, and hopes and dreams for the future. I did not know Carlesha, Nia, Kennedy, Jabez, JP, La’Dejah and many other youth that I have come to know through volunteering.

I did not know about the obstacles faced by people of color who have spent generations in generational poverty. I did not realize that the lack of resources encompasses much more than just a lack of income.

I did not know about the injustices in our justice system if you are poor or a minority and you cannot hire someone to advocate and speak for you.

I did not understand the challenges of first-generation college goers.

I did not know about Reagan’s “War on Drugs” and how it had failed and disproportionately affected the black community.

I did not know my friend, Dwight, a Christian youth minister, the same age as my sons who shared with me one day how his mom taught him how to behave and what to do should he ever get pulled over by the police. I never gave a thought about my sons being pulled over and not being treated fairly. I had no idea anyone had to have such conversations.

I did not know my friend, Kimberly, who is currently serving alongside me on a non-profit Board of Directors, a beautiful young woman, who shared how she was stopped and questioned by the police when she was jogging through a nice white neighborhood and the humiliation she experienced.

I did not know my work friend , Pat, who had two sons the same age as mine who shared the fear she had experienced raising black sons making me aware that I had never had her same thoughts or fears for the reasons that she did.

Our friend, Jay, had not come to stay with us yet. He was a PTM youth leader and has deep feelings about race relations. He said to me during one of our conversations in my kitchen, “Donna, you have to think about skin color. Otherwise, you miss things. You don’t ask questions that need asking.”

And there it is in a nutshell.

These are but a few of the things I did not know when I thought I was doing the right thing by not seeing skin color. There are many more.

Today, I am glad that I now see skin color. I want to make sure I do. I no longer think of it as being a bad thing. I want to see skin color because to know a black or brown person and to see the color of their skin is to acknowledge that their experience in our country, even in our city, has not been the same as mine. It means I am not turning a blind eye to this truth. It means we can learn from each other and understand things we could not before. It is a step towards heartfelt and honest conversations about race issues in our country. It means we can acknowledge the lens through which we see things is likely going to be different. It means we can have a fuller understanding of the human experience through the eyes of those who are different than us while at the same time learning those differences are likely not as many as we might think.

It is a universal truth that we all want to be seen, to be known, to be loved, to be treated with dignity and fairness. Seeing skin color is one of the first steps for those of us who want to change the status quo. The sad truth is these things happen more organically and more easily for some of us than others and we must continue to ask why and fight the good fight to move humanity forward.

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*This blog post can also be found at: https://prestontaylorministries.org/

Keep the Faith- #ktf

#thisearthlyjourney

CONTROL

Have you ever been struck by another vehicle and the car you are in starts to spin and you have no control over where it is going or where it winds up stopping or what it might collide with in the in-between?  I have and it is just that kind of feeling – that loss of control- that is maybe my biggest fear.

Watching the news the last several weeks has been akin to the spinning car as we have all watched the global domino affect of COVID-19 feeling helpless in our living rooms unless, that is, you are in health care and then it is a different kind of  spinning out of control they are experiencing.  

My biggest fear, other than the common ones like something happening to my children, are situations where I feel I am not in control. Hmmm. Does that mean I am a controlling person? What would the origin of this fear be? What parts of life does this affect?

I am not a drinker or a drug user. It never appealed to me for a variety of reasons, the main one being I cannot imagine not being in control of what I do or say and perhaps hurting myself or others. That thought pretty much scares me to death. It makes me feel vulnerable and at risk.

Having witnessed adults not in control due to substance abuse while growing up, I decided early on I never wanted to be that person. This could be the origin of my fear when I am in situations over which I have no control.

In 1993, we were a young family with sons ages 4 and 7, on the Sunday that our house caught fire while we were gone to church. It was a very cold March day, a dreary day, with snow remaining on the ground from earlier in the week. We stood and watched, I in a skirt and heels, as everything we owned was lost. The house sat back far from the street in a rural area and the fire trucks could not get water there quick enough to save it. It was an old farmhouse and it went up like a torch. We lived in a close-knit community and friends were there while it was still burning asking us about sizes, stuffing money in our pockets and purse and offering their coats as it was so cold that day. There are few things, I would think, that create more a feeling of having lost control of a situation than watching your house burn to the ground. I have to say though that while our house and belongings were gone, the giving and loving spirit of our friends and family was life-giving, sustaining and unforgettable and we have always been grateful.

We have covered “life situations” now and how they play into this fear of not having control but what about people and relationships? Would I be considered a controlling person?

I have never thought anyone has to be like me. It is a tenet of Christianity that we strive to be like Jesus and everyone should and therefore everyone needs to be like us, so to speak. I have always thought  who the heck am I that anyone should be like me?  Are we all not like grains of sand in this universe? Certainly, I have few answers about anything.  Respect for differences in people and having an interest in learning about how we are both the same and different is something I love.

I do, however, have high expectations of others at times. Could that be considered controlling? Currently, an enjoyable activity I have been able to do during this Covid quarantine is a “walk and talk”. I plug my earbuds into my iPhone, suit up in my walking shoes (no need to put on elastic waisted pants as that is all I have worn right through here) and call friends while getting a great dose of sunshine and cardiac activity. It has been a bright spot in my day.

“I tend to always surround myself with people who do what they say they are going to do”, my friend said one day this week while we were each walking on separate sides of town.

“Me, too! That is a really big thing to me. I don’t do well with people who are not consistent and don’t follow through on what they say.”

In “The Speed of Trust”, Stephen M.R. Covey writes extensively about this trait in people and the important role it plays in building trust with others. Keeping commitments is the quickest way to build trust in any relationship. He goes further to say “‘When you make a commitment, you build hope; when you keep a commitment, you build trust”. When commitments are not kept, it creates immediate distrust.

We would all agree that keeping one’s word and the ability to follow through is a desirable and worthy trait to which we should all aspire.

As I looked more closely at the high expectation I have for others (and myself) to honor their words and commitments it helped me to decipher my fear as being something other than the feeling of loss of control. My fear is that of being vulnerable. Vulnerable for letdown, to suffer hurt feelings, to be disappointed. I shy away from vulnerability.

I watched Brene’ Browns hugely popular TedTalk on vulnerability again (47,087,379 views!). It is excellent. She talks about how to lean into vulnerability and become a “whole-hearted” person who has a deep sense of worthiness and the courage to place yourself in a vulnerable situation. Vulnerability is at the core of our struggle for worthiness but is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love. If you never allow yourself to experience vulnerability out of fear of being hurt, you also miss out on many good things. You can listen to her TedTalk  and learn more here. 

My father told me once when I was making a critical decision, “Sometimes you just have to take a risk.”

When we place ourselves in vulnerable situations it can be a sign of courage and confidence. It also allows us to be more grace filled people toward others when we feel secure enough within ourselves to allow people to make mistakes and to know those mistakes are not about us.  And that is a sign we know deep down we are of value in this world and to others.  We must not be afraid to be our authentic selves and know we are worthy recipients of love and friendship.

“Afraid, afraid, afraid, afraid, afraid. That is the refrain of what we are and what we do. But don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to live and laugh and love. Don’t be afraid to give and serve and care. Don’t be afraid to speak and do. Don’t be afraid.”- Fred Craddock

It’s About Time

So long I’ve heard it said that ‘Time Is Money’. The only source of money for such as myself is labor. Consequently, the more time spent in labor must result in more money. So, I jumped on the wheel and ran.

 Running first with values fairly reasonably stacked by priority but for certain moments, maybe days, weeks…only one ‘priority, one ‘goal’ like the proverbial carrot, nothing else considered. All else falling behind and filling in—squeezing in- whenever there was time for them.

Then a disturbance, an irritation, started working on me. Not only were my priorities- my values-out of order but they were also out of proportion. So much so that some-ones which I had valued at an earlier time- were becoming extinct. 

This disturbance kept questions running through my mind- incomplete thoughts that needed completing. Until one day a transition took place – Time Is Money- Time Is Money- Time is…Time is… Time is…Time Is Love. 

Time Is an act of love when it contains kindness, concern; when it is given to lending a helping hand, admiring, encouraging, comforting, sharing- sharing a loaf, sharing a laugh, sharing a life in a beautiful world. 

Written by our friend Richard Brewer- 1931-2018
Husband, father, Navy man, Cribbage/Scrabble player, book lover, now a guest blogger.

Keep the Faith- #KTF

#thisearthlyjourney

Donna


Making Everybody Feel Like Somebody

A life isn’t significant except for its impact on other lives.- Jackie Robinson

Antonio Basco lost his wife, Margie, in the El Paso Walmart shooting. She was his only family. He called for the community to join him at her service to say goodbye. The church was packed to capacity with 500 inside with  another 1000 standing outside. He received flowers from around the world and was greeted with hugs and applause as he entered the service which brought a smile to his face. The community came together through love and compassion to make Antonio, a broken and lonely man, feel like somebody that mattered. 

*************

You can find a nugget of  wisdom in the most unlikely of places. I bought a coloring book ,the “Groovy Abstract Coloring Book”, for my grandchildren and I to color together. On the back of  one of the coloring pages was written: 

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.

I thought of this when I read about Mr. Basco. 

To overcome we have to believe it matters that we do. To believe that we have to believe that we matter.  

 I am taking a chance  and speaking for everyone when I say we all want to feel significant. It is a common denominator we all share no matter where we breathe in the world or the background from which we come.  

I learned this one night in a small  house in north Nashville where I helped  with leading a small, faith-based group made up of black, urban, loving,  young adults from a background of generational poverty, public school disparity, violence, fatherlessness- you name the social justice issue and it was represented. 

On this particular night, there was a volunteer who helped sometimes who was a middle-aged affluent white man, a good man, doing good things. He came from a background of private school and lived in an upscale part of Nashville. And there was me. Somewhere in between. . 

Our icebreaker question was: What is one goal you want to accomplish in your lifetime? The nice, well -to-do man answered : To have some significance to others. 

I was struck by his answer because he had the thing that our world says would already make someone significant -affluence, correct?  Secondly, it was the same for the young adults there without a privileged background. In the big picture, they were coming to this group looking for significance, to grow, to matter.Two totally different demographics- age, race, background-  all with the same need to feel like a significant someone.

Being a person of faith, I was reading my bible one day and began thinking about the instructions given that we should write certain things on the “tablet of our heart.”  As I thought it through, what is written on this tablet seems a very significant thing as we travel through this life. I do believe that we can write on the hearts of others with our words and actions…for the positive or negative.

How can we make everybody feel like somebody in a positive way? How can we write good things on their heart and help them feel significant?

  1. Be interested-  I believe this is one of the most effective ways of encouraging others. Show that you’re interested in what they’re doing. Get them talking. Affirm what is important to them. Their passion might not be your passion but a friend  once said, “Someone who can’t understand someone else’s passion probably has none of their own.”
  2. Acknowledge contribution big or small–  . A simple “great job” or “thank you” can have a strong impact, which can make the difference between going on or giving up. Even better in today’s world, get that pen, paper and stamp out and send a handwritten note through snail mail!
  3. Gratitude– express it! I told my children “People don’t have to do nice things for you, show appreciation when they do.”
  4.  Be present and listen!  There is nothing that makes someone feel of less value than talking with someone who is constantly checking their watch,  phone, email or staring at the television. 
  5. RAK-Random acts of kindness– A friend recently showed up at my office with a dozen roses and a card on an especially hard day just for no reason at all! I will never forget it!
  6. Kind words– Letting someone know something you admire about them or like about them can change a life. Sometimes we see good things they may never see themselves.
  7. Hospitality- invite someone you might not normally hang with for a meal or dessert and coffee. I know one family who did this with “Soup Sunday” and a woman that has “share my table” Sundays.
  8. Use your gifts– We all have them. Look for ways to use them to encourage and strengthen others. 
  9. Let the other person shine– If they are sharing something they feel good about no need to “one up”- let them have their moment.

Keep the faith- #KTF

#thisearthlyjourney

#tabletontheheart

#weareallsomebody

Blessings,

Donna

What’s in Your Backpack?

 Author and speaker  Rob Bell, in his short film  “Luggage”, talks about the wounds we all experience. Some are little and we should just get over them but some are big and heavy and deep. We want to be rid of these, free of them, put them behind us, right? Who wants to live life as the walking wounded? How do we do it though?  They can last a day, ten years or a lifetime until they are just a part of who we are. 

“We’ve all got scars. Words that were said to you when you were young… Things you saw that you should never have seen… Lifelong consequences from stupid decisions, whether ours or someone else’s…

Make sure that they are SCARS not WOUNDS. If you keep finding that you are sensitive about certain things, held back by the same unreasonable fears, or that you keep making the same bad decisions repeatedly, or that you have habits you just can’t quit…. chances are good that you have a wound that never healed right. It’s not a scar, it’s a wound or an infection. Get it cleaned out and get it healed. If that means you need to get some professional help, to talk to a trusted friend about it, or whatever – the only person that can make the decision to get that part of your life healed is you. A scar shows you’ve been through the process.

An overly sensitive attitude, a destructive habit, a fearful mindset just shows that you have a wound you need to work on”, writes author Josh Hatcher.

The day we found out a freshmen took his life at the high school where I work is the first night that I talked with James.** He was also a freshmen in that same school as well as a student at the youth non-profit where I volunteer. That evening I noticed he was eating dinner at a table by himself and I went to sit with him. We began to chat  about the sadness of the school day.

 I have never talked to a person who seemed as despondent and depressed as James. I sensed it was not just the loss that had happened at school but there was a heaviness about him like he had been carrying a load for so long. I was very alarmed.   

I spoke with the youth directors, asked our Preston Taylor Ministries (“PTM”) Board of Directors to pray for him at our meeting the next morning and went to school and asked our principal if he  could eat lunch with me in my office once a week. I also learned he was doing poorly in school.

Our first lunch, thinking he would not want to talk much, I was ready with a Yahtzee game. He talked through that lunch and every lunch as the school year progressed.   He shared that he hated school, he liked none of this teachers or classes. He felt dumb and angry that he felt dumb. He had experienced problems and losses at home as well. Things not in his control. He felt interested in nothing and good at nothing. 

I noticed he always wore his obviously heavy backpack on his back, never putting it down. One day I asked him, “James, what do you have in that backpack?”  “It’s just my stuff and I don’t want to put it down.”

I took the opportunity to tell him that every time we experience trauma or hurt in life it can be like a brick is put in our backpack. It gets heavier and heavier until we can hardly stand up if we can’t find a good way to unload the bricks. 

As the year went on, he was surrounded by caring adults  as well as being tested at school for learning differences. It seems the system had failed him as he should have been tested years prior. He did test with learning differences which explained his difficulties at school. How tragic that it took until high school to get the help he needed years before!

We now spent lunches talking through how he should not feel dumb or ashamed any longer. 

With love and support from home, school and PTM, by the end of the year James was smiling and his step seemed lighter. He was making some effort at school as he no longer felt “slow” and “dumb” but more optimistic that he could learn.  Being able to smile seems a small thing but very huge for this young man. #overcoming

What’s in your figurative “backpack”?    Maybe you have been carrying a heavy load for a long time.  I have certainly carried some heavy weights in my life. What wounds haven’t healed? God does not want us to live like that. Rob Bell says that maybe you should say, “I am not going to carry this around for one more day.” 

When I have finished with all I can do , I have found much peace from saying, “God, it is your turn. I  no longer know what to do.” And then I rest as carrying bricks around can be exhausting. And suck the life right out of you in some cases.

I hope you can find what makes you feel centered and peaceful.

I hope you write on the “tablet  of your heart” (from Proverbs) that you are loved and your wounds heal forming a scar that shows you are an overcomer.

This song is beautiful:

Keep the Faith #ktf

#thisearthlyjourney

Donna

**Name changed to protect privacy. I was granted permission to share but decided not to use his real name anyway.