I grew up on a small farm just outside the thriving metropolis of Leipsic, Ohio.  (Yes, please detect the sarcasm.  I know my readership has grown, so a bit of clarifying information…the population of Leipsic is 2,000 people and is about as rural as you can get.)  Whoever drew the school district map threw our address into the Pandora Gilboa system even though we lived closer to Leipsic.  Pandora, from a kid’s perspective, was a long ways away.  Pandora was where all my friends lived, which made school about the only place I got to connect with them.  So, I tried to involve myself in quite a few school activities along the way.

I always enjoyed football and basketball, but I’m old enough that there really wasn’t any coordinated activities for when I was in grade school.  So, Junior High was the first opportunity to try out.  Now, a bit of insight about my school age physique.  Some might call it…scrawny.  But I’d prefer ‘fit and trim’.  Basically, I was a really small kid.  I was not only deficient in height, but weight as well.  And as I viewed my classmate’s bodies maturing with muscles and stature, my self esteem took quite a hit and going out for football just didn’t seem like a good idea.  I might crumple under the weight of my shoulder pads, let alone a hit from a large 8th grader!

Basketball seemed a bit more reasonable, so out I went to conquer the courts with dreams of Michael Jordan’s killer crossover dancing through my mind.  Turns out, you need height, weight and muscle for that sport too.  So, I sat the bench and hoped that my team was up by enough points in the 4th quarter for the coach to put me in with a minute or so left on the clock.  Sometimes we were ahead, and I got in.  Sometimes we were behind by enough points for the coach to put me in.  And sometimes…I didn’t play at all.

I never was the smartest person in school.  Around my freshman year of high school, I had come to the realization that basketball wasn’t my thing.  My physique hadn’t changed much either and I remained the scrawny fit and trim kid.  Not that anyone was paying attention, but I had played my 7th and 8th grade year and hadn’t scored any points.  Try as I might, the ball would not go where I intended it on the very few shots I was able to take.  But that, my friends, was about to change…

No matter the record, each team was placed into a tournament at the end of the regular season.  Our record wasn’t great, but nonetheless, we got to play in Round 1 of the tourney.  And…well…we got trounced.  I mean, it was bad.  Therefore, I got in.  And as I tipsily scrambled around…uh, I mean dribbled the ball gracefully to the basket, I drew a foul!  2 shots!

So, I was one of those kids that the crowd really cheers for when they get in and go wild when they score a point.  To say my team was pulling for me was an understatement.  I stepped to the line.  The weight of the world on my shoulders.  Awaiting me…my first point.

Bounce…

Bounce…

Bounce…

Shot!…

CLANK.

No good.

My second shot upcoming.  By now, the ref had caught on.  He handed me the ball.  “You got this, kid.  Sink the shot.”

Time stood still.  I broke into a flop sweat.  My legs became jelly.  My palms so sweaty I could barely grip the ball.  My team shouted encouragement.  I stepped to the line.

Bounce…

Bounce…

Bounce…

Shot!…

SWISH!

The gym erupted!  Even the other team clapped.  I had scored my first…and only…point of my career.  The rest of high school I cheered alongside my friends in the student section of the games as I embraced the fact that basketball was just not my thing.

Each of us, created on purpose for a purpose.  Some are good at this, some are good at that.  Each uniquely designed to work together to solve problems, to win games, to move humanity forward.  At times, we stumble, we fall, we learn, we get back up.

I sometimes reflect back on that ref…”You got this, kid.”  Life is hard.  It’s tough.  The best laid plans can be altered or destroyed.  Yet, we move forward.  Recognizing what we’re not good at, embracing what we are good at.  We strive, we solve, we encourage, we help, we learn, we give, we help.

Live on purpose.

Wherever life has you today…be of good cheer…

You got this!