Tuesday, January 25, 2011

That was Then, This is Now

Last night, my teammate, Joannie, and I were having our bedtime chit chat about the ups and downs of life.  We both exhaled with a sigh after she said, "I wish life and water polo and relationships could just be...perfect." Ya, me too...  She is recovering from breaking her thumb, which is really tough, especially when it's your dominant hand and you play a sport that requires gripping a ball with your...thumb. We're over here in Arizona, training with Arizona State University, and so the bother of her injury is especially troubling when it's GAME TIME!

As we reflected and shared our snippets of wisdom with each other last night, I remembered how I felt around this time last year.  I was in a completely different state of mind than I am now.  My injury wasn't physical, like Jo's, but my headspace was a war zone.

Enter journal entries.

February 9th, 2010:

"God, help me.  I don't know if this is my own ugliness, but I am just so down and also frustrated with water polo.  I don't want to go to practice right now.  At all.  I just want to not show up... It runs my life, and I want out.  The same demon that always comes back is back.  This feels so meaningless... it gnaws at me.  I can't deal with this season..."

(That's a troubled soul right there!  But look here:)

January 19th, 2011:

"Good morning from San Francisco!  Lord, thank you that my spirits are far more positive this year.  It's actually crazy!!!  I was at the end of my rope last year, so down in the dumps about everything.  And now, I am doing much better!!!  So, Lord, thank you, and I love you.  Thank you for this season.  May you make me stronger in it, so that my faith will be unshakable in hard times.  Because I know hard times are inevitable..."

Exit journal entries.

When I read over both entries, I am reminded that there is something so important about holding on when times are tough.  I feel like I have gone to such dark places when feeling really down, but I bet I am not the only one (right?).  I sometimes wonder who could plant such negative thoughts in my head?  It often feels so much bigger than me.  Like I am at war with a self that is not myself!  And it's all happening inside a mesh of cells the size of a large peach...in my head!  Bah!

But there is hope. And hope changes everything.  So, as I fell asleep last night, and Jo stayed up reading, still a bit uneasy about the reality of her situation, I told her that I was praying for her.  As dreamland approached, I prayed that she would be comforted, and that she would have hope.  I prayed that God would teach her something through this hard time and bring her to a better season like he did for me.

And so, here we are today. Practice went pretty well this morning, reports Jo!!!  We're one day closer to her full recovery.  We're one day closer to her shooting the ball with a ZINGGG!!! that I love to watch (I'm obsessed with players that flick their wrists really well--she's one of them).  We keep moving forward, yes we do, aware of the hills and valleys that make life life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Confessions on Leadership

Today I realize a misconception I have about leadership. There is a part of me that only believes I am valuable in my role as a leader if I am leading a certain 'caliber' of people. That if you put me in the position to lead a country, boy am I a leader!!! But if you ask me to lead a team of overnight stockers at Walmart, ok, whatever, sure.

But what is leadership? It is the opportunity to impact, elevate and empower the lives around us.  It is our chance to be an example that inspires change. We can invest and care, sincerely.  And any life is worth it.

You see, if I were to lead a team of stockers, I would have the opportunity to teach them more than the most efficient way to replenish items on shelves.  Our lives extend into our jobs, and there is always something meaningful going on.  

What's beautiful and a bit suspenseful is that a lot of the time we don't choose who we are going to lead.  We may be positioned somewhere, but people still have the choice to value and take to heart what we do or say.  Often times, we are chosen. And I think that whether it's our little sister or our entire community, it is leadership just the same. And we ought to value our roles of leadership in other people's lives, no matter who they are.