I once served on a leadership team where each person had to share our personal story. Not our milestones in terms of graduation and relationship dates, but our layered and complex story.
As someone newly introduced to any kind of real vulnerability, this was difficult for me. I gave it my best, but, immediately, had buyer’s remorse and wanted to recount all I shared; at least nuance it to make the rough edges more palatable. I was certain the group was thinking how to rescind my role on the team due to my messiness. They barely blinked, just accepted me as I was, and went on to share their own broken stories.
“It’s interesting how many of your memories are framed around sports.” Their only comment.
We’re somewhere around 40 days in a world without organized sports. When the dominoes of suspended seasons fell, I was deeply disturbed. Sports has always served as my escape. A fantastic world of failure and triumph. Rejection and redemption. Stories continually being rewritten. A place where there is always, always hope. Because there is always next season. Until there wasn’t.
The Bible tells of the Apostle Paul, who struggled with some kind of affliction, the details of which are not offered in the text. Paul continued to ask God to take away this difficulty. He says that God responded with simply, “my grace is sufficient.” Keep going, I’m here. You have everything you need to do the next right thing, God assured Paul.
My wife and I watched a documentary on minimalism. It’s mostly a story of contentment in a manner that’s counterculture—consuming less to find more. With a life mostly void of extremes, I’ve rarely felt like I fall into any category of irresponsible consumption. Yet, I know that I do.
I over-indulge in busyness, pressure, Rhino-fries, Amazon, media, affirmation from others and even sports, I suppose. I consume to distract or numb, chasing contentment. It’s like contentment is somewhere—just. out. there. If I can only turn enough dials to get it right, I’ll find the recipe for peace. It’s knowing that God is enough, but not willing to risk it all on that promise. Because what if His grace isn’t enough?
I’ve been enduring this difficult season of sheltering and waiting for what has to be just around the corner. Another week or two or four and we’ll be past this and onto normal. We know that won’t be the case. It won’t be back to normal. This pandemic has reshaped us in ways that we’ll continue to discover for years to come.
I pray every day for healing, for more life and less death, and simply that “our hopeful lungs can breathe again, oh, we can breathe again” (from For King and Country’s “Burn the Ships”). At the same time there is a normalcy to which I don’t want to return. I don’t want to snap back to a normal that distracts me from what matters most, or slip carelessly down the spiral of consume, work, consume, earn, consume, achieve, consume, distract ...
There is a choice in all of this. We don’t have to jump back on the merry-go-round that someone else is spinning. We can turn from chaotic consumption and re-engage our lives with vigor and purpose, thoughtfully and strategically choosing where our time and attention is spent. It will take intention. It will require us to believe in the depths of our soul that God’s promise is true. His grace is sufficient. We are loved. And that is enough.
As I consider this new way, these lyrics from “Burn the Ships” resound,
“Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye
Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships
And don’t you look back”
May we rise up out of the heartache of this pandemic and step into a new day, rich with hope, deep with contentment, and overflowing with God’s grace. May we find each day gifted to us to be enough.
And, yes, sports cannot return quickly enough. A place where there is still always next season.
Matt Tuckey, @mtuckey, is a husband, dad, volunteer and business development director in that order. He writes for The Sentinel about the intersection of life and faith.
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