Almost a year and half ago many of my good friends put together a fundraiser called "Friends for Feather". That night Rosslyn encouraged everyone to write me an encouragement note, so that I could read them when I was feeling low. Well I didn't end up reading them until recently, because it wasn't until then that I really started feeling low. They were wonderful, there were dozens of them and they really did make me feel so much better. I will read them again in the future, and this time I may not wait until I feel like crying all the time. Not that crying isn't good...but everything in moderation :)
One letter I got during the last year and a bit, especially affected me. It came via my "un-real" Dad, Mr. Gary Wagner:) A young man, my age, that he plays soccer with (I believe) gave him a letter to get to me. On one side was a letter he just wrote for me, and on the other side was a printed letter. It was a rather worn piece of paper and I soon found out why.
I don't recall giving this young man this letter (I’m pretty sure I didn’t write it), or the night out. But I do remember him and working with him, some 17 years ago, at yet another abc restaurant.
This letter (both sides) made me reflect on my life with a surrendered heart. My life is all in His hands; beginning to end. The words of the letter apply to the whole “game” of life and not just a few hours on a soccer field.
He wrote, about a year ago:
A long time ago you gave me this letter. We both worked at abc and one night we went to the Husky for a bite to eat…after work. Anyway, we talked until it was late and you had this letter, which you gave me. I was having trouble in soccer at the time. I was trying to find out or understand my role on the team I was playing for. You thought this letter would inspire me and give me guidance. It did!
I never got a chance to thank-you, but I want you to know that I am grateful. I have read this letter hundreds of times and find new meaning in it every time.
I heard about your battle with cancer and have been thinking about you a great deal. You touched me and gave me meaning in a time when I needed it. I hope by returning this letter to you, I will give you at least some reassurance and meaning. You had a big impact on my life and I often think about you.
I learned to never give up and keep moving toward my goals. I hope you find this message in the letter as well. I wish you all the best.
When you play tonight, play your best. Play your hardest. But most of all…play for me. You say you will, you say you did, but you were wrong.
Encourage, Don’t discourage!
Smile, don’t complain.
Most importantly, look ahead-not behind!
When you play tonight, love your teammates. Love the ones that never do well, love the ones that are always the best. Love the person who loses the game for you. Love the person who gets all the cheers and compliments. Remember that I love them anyway and you should try to love them too.
When you play tonight, remember how blessed you are. You might ache all over, but it will go away. There are people who feel that way their whole lives. And there are people who can’t feel.
You may get frustrated at seeing a losing score on the scoreboard, but remember you can see. You may want to cry when someone yells at you, but try to say thanks because you can hear. When you feel excited, when you feel hurt, remember these are gifts I gave you that compliment each other, and that makes life a fascinating experience.
When you play tonight, remember that there are people watching you. That’s a scary thought, but it’s important. Be careful how you live, you may be the only Bible some people read. People notice when you hug instead of yell and when you win or lose well. Someone you’ve never even met may come away learning more from your team about life than about the sport.
When you play tonight, be humble. Don’t try to be the best, try to help the person next to you be the best. Don’t look for glory, you won’t find it. It will come when you aren’t seeking it. Don’t brag, don’t flaunt your talents. Quietly work, think and try to improve. Make yourself perfect before working on your teammates.
And the last request…though it comes last, in My eyes it is the most important…have FUN!! In competition it’s easy to forget why you started playing sports in the beginning. Ten years from now it won’t be easy to remember who won or lost, as it will be to remember if you enjoyed the sport. You don’t know when you’ll be able to play again, so go out there and use your abilities, and love every minute of it.
Love winning because it is easy to love but recognize that losing makes you become better. Love jumping, running, hitting and cheering. All over the world tonight there are people lying in bed dreaming of being able to do those things. And when it comes right down to it, that’s what really matters, that you can do these things. It’s not whether you win or lose…you still will be!
So when you play tonight, remember me. I’ll be watching you. So put up a good fight. I believe you can win and hope that you think so too. Love what you are doing, and always remember to laugh.
• So perhaps it’s not sports for you, perhaps it’s something else. I offer this to you to apply to your life, right now, right where you are at. Whether it’s your career, your marriage, your parenting, your schooling, your health…
Still in the “game” and playing ‘till I puke,