Friday, July 15, 2005

How It All Started (Part II)

High School: Part Two

In the next few weeks/months, my life really changed. I had a huge hole in my heart. I would frequently see my ex-coach in the hall at school. Once she said to me, "Amanda, you had the biggest heart of anyone on that team," which made me even more confused than I was before. Doesn't heart count for something? Not only had she ripped out my heart, that comment felt like she stabbed me in the stomach and twisted the knife.

My grandparents lived next door to my parents, and we would have dinner with them every Thursday night. My grandpa was getting very sick, but our tradition was that we went out to a certain Chinese restaurant on Thursdays. Now, instead of going out, my parents would order a load of take-out, and bring it up to him and we would all eat together. A week or so after I was cut from the team, my grandpa, a very well-known Southern Baptist preacher in our area, said to me on that Thursday night, "I'm glad it's over for you. It took up too much of your time. God has other plans." His comment infuriated me.

I began to immensly hate everything that even remotely reminded me of basketball. I did not go to any more games for the remainder of my high school career. I didn't speak to any of my ex-teammates. I got extremely angry with my little sister, who was much more talented than I was, when she quit before her freshman season. I couldn't believe that she could easily have something that I wanted so badly and just throw it away.

I tried to find other things to fill that hole. I joined the YMCA and began playing volleyball for fun. I love volleyball, but it wasn't basketball, so I quit. My junior year of high school I played softball for the first time in my life. I wasn't bad at it, but I hated it. When you go from playing such a fast-paced sport like basketball to softball, it leaves the slower sport lacking...a lot. Our team situation didn't help. We all hated each other.

I went into a depression. I would come home from school and go straight to my room, only to come out to eat. I slept a lot. I never did anything with my friends. I was very angry with my parents for not sticking up for me to my coach. They knew exactly what happened and how it affected me, yet they chose to do nothing about it. I was unhappy. I gained a lot of weight. I tried to give off every concievable sign to my parents to let them know how much my life sucked. They didn't get it. Or if they did, they didn't let on that they got it.

It was the summer following my junior year that I got the opportunity to go on my first mission trip. It wasn't any kind of big, extravagant trip, we just went to Meridian, Mississippi for a week to help renovate some homes for people who couldn't afford to do it themselves. It was on this trip that I began to realize that Christianity isn't just about the things you can't do. Growing up in a Southern Baptist church in a rural area, I don't believe I ever heard a sermon about how to live for God. All I heard was a variety of: don't drink, don't cuss, don't commit adultery. None of that stuff spoke to me. I know that I'm not supposed to sin, but as a high schooler, I thought that's really all I had to do to be a good Christian. It was on that mission trip that I realized there was this little thing called "discipleship" that could really change my life. I don't think it really sunk in at that point, but it was something that I took note of. I realized that there are a lot of other Christians out there that are my age that act differently than any of the "Christians" that I went to school with.

I slowly began to come out of my depression as I started to become more involved with my youth group at church. It was a very small group of high schoolers, only about 8-9 of us, but the heart of our volunteer youth minister kept me coming back. We did fun things together. And our youth minister cared about us enough to use up his vacation time to take us places. He was not getting paid for it, he did it because he wanted to. We went on other mission trips and Christianity began to become a front-runner of things that are most important to me.



Now, when I look back, I realize that I would never have gone on that mission trip if I were playing basketball. It would have been one of those things that I would have had to "sacrifice" so that I could play. I also realize that my grandpa's comment was more prophetic than any of us ever could have imagined. God did have other plans, but even in my senior year of high school, I had no idea what those plans really were.

"God Thing" #1: No more basketball.

3 Comments:

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Tony Arnold said...

I have always wondered if God takes away our number #1 love, at great pain to us, when He knows it is more important to us than He is? We may not realize it, but He knows our heart. And, I don't think He does it to everyone, just to those who He knows love Him, but don't yet realize that others things are taking priority. We don't even know how to be a disciple yet, so we wouldn't recognize that something is a barrier to it.

Or is it just simply a Christian finding the silver lining to disappointment, failure, tragedy, etc.?

I know this opens a theological can of worms, but I can't help think this way at times based on my life and stories like yours.

Tony

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I am eager to learn more of how God works out His Plan for you. :)

He is so faithful!

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

Our God is jealous. His very nature demands that He be our #1 priority. Sometimes, it is a hard lesson to learn. I am so thankful that despite the pain you experienced, you can look back and see it was God's plan from the start.

 

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