I've posted in this blog several times about my love of basketball. Just the other day I was reminiscing to a friend about my first memory of basketball: watching Michael Jordan on T.V. when I was three years old. Soon after my father bought me a basketball hoop. It was one of those children's goals, made of red and black plastic.
|6 y.o. , with my first basketball hoop in the background|
I started playing club basketball when I was six. I was short, chubby and clumsy, three attributes which do not lend themselves to the game of basketball; but I was young and energetic and didn't care that I stunk. I remember clearly the first time I scored a basket in a game: it was the start of the second half and I remember getting the ball near halfway, I went screaming down court towards the hoop, the ball bouncing all over the place; my short, chubby legs pumping beneath me; the whole crowd cheering my name! I approached the hoop and I let the ball fly...IT WENT IN! I turned around to celebrate with my teammates, but noticed they were all standing down the other end of the court, arms crossed, all looking rather unimpressed. That's when the referee explained to me that I had scored in the other team's hoop!
Turns out the crowd wasn't cheering my name, they were yelling at me to turn around.
I wanted to score a basket so badly that I ignored everything else going on around me. I went the wrong way because I was too caught up in doing my own thing. OK, so I was six and I didn't really know what was going on; but this story prompts a question: do you ever get so focussed on what you're doing that you neglect to hear the voices around you? Goals and plans are important, but they also need to be flexible and open to change. Its important to have a vision for what you want to do with your life, but it's more important to allow God to influence your life.
If you'd have asked me five years ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would have told you I was going to be a Catholic priest. I prayed and discerned and eventually I entered the seminary. When I was in the seminary I was confronted with one of the most difficult choices I've ever faced in my life: should I stay or should I go? Part of me still really wanted to stay, to become a priest. But part of me also felt drawn in a different direction. Looking back now, I can say that "drawing feeling" was God. I traumatised over what to do, making a decision and then changing my mind the very next day. Eventually I went with that drawing in a different direction.
As I reflect back on that time now I can see God at work. At the time though I was left with a whole bunch of loose ends. I was bummed because I had long planned on being a priest, only to have that plan change on me when I finally began that journey. It took me a few years to figure out what it all meant. Now though I can see how all the pieces connect. As I go to out to the Catholic schools around Brisbane I lean heavily on my formation from the seminary to speak to young people about vocation, calling and discernment.
Being driven is a good thing. Ambition and motivation are good qualities to have, but our drive has to be inspired, fuelled not just by success but also imagination and hope. I once heard a Bishop say that everything happens for a reason, that signs don't have to be miraculous but can be normal and mundane everyday events. How is God speaking to you through your family, workmates or teachers? What's happening at work or at school that could be prompting you in a different direction? Do you approach life with the imagination to hear God speak through these people or experiences?
God's call might not always make sense, but if you have hope and faith in your heart God will use every experience to speak to you and others about his love.