Note to Self from a Coach's Wife
Your idyllic suburban upbringing will take your first challenging life turn in Junior High. Your parents will make the important decision to leave the only church you've ever known. This single decision will change your Spiritual development drastically.
You will meet and engage with mentors that will stretch your understanding of God's character and how you read the Bible. You will meet people who expand your global view. Your friends tell you about their experiences living overseas and open your eyes to the realization that you must research and study things for yourself rather than taking the word of a self-positioned authority. They also plant a sense of adventure within you—a longing to explore new places.
It was a huge step of faith to choose a new church. Your parents trusted God with your unknown future.
Attending church in one community and school in another helps you learn to move through different circles of people with comfort easily. You also realize that friendships run in seasons, and some people are in your life for longer seasons than others. This will teach you that there isn't a point in wasting time being anyone but yourself.
Just as you're starting to gather your bearings balancing work friends, school friends, church friends, homework, and responsibilities as a student athletic trainer life you'll find yourself heading to college for all new experiences.
Always remember your college years were challenging and a lot of fun.
As a freshman athletic training major, your days are spent on the football field. The quietest moments are at football practice, where you quickly fall into the familiar routine from high school. Fill the water bottles, respond to the injury, run through the evaluation, head to the doctor, and start rehab.
The classwork is only half as interesting as the hands-on work, and you find yourself more engaged in your Bible and ministry classes than the classes for your major. By the end of your freshman year in college, you are pursuing two paths. Balancing student staff with Young Life and while still majoring in athletic training, working with different teams, and trying various internships allows you to combine both interests, but your worlds are very separate.
You will pray for a clear path for all your passions to align, and God will show up in amazing ways.
At football practice your Junior year, you will hear a common question from a voice you never hear on the field. "Is it boring watching us practice every day?" And at that moment, you will look down to see a smile on a classmate that always joined in on conversations. He never seemed all that interested in anything more than a casual friendship, but now he's flirting just a bit, and you don't mind.
It won't take long for clear intentions to present themselves. This will include a conversation where you begin to understand that God was not confused when he gave me a passion for ministry and sports. His gift of a partner asking me to consider living on mission every day and use football as a ministry was icing on the cake.
You'll Learn the Coaching Lifestyle is an Adventure with Heartache
Your dating months will stretch you emotionally and Spiritually. Within the first few months, you will learn what hypocrisy looks like as "friends" now walk past you with looks of disgust.
This is a lesson that will prepare you for future encounters for the rest of your life. You learn to accept that not everyone pursues authentic relationships by seeing your dorm mates now judge you for loving someone different. You'll rely on your high school and college education in Biblical foundations, doctrine, and hermeneutics affirm your interpretation of Scripture. Developing these foundational truths before marriage will be important as you will face legalistic and racist words and actions your entire marriage.
Your adventurous spirit will be tested
Football will take you all over the State of Illinois and out to the Mountains of Virginia. No move will come when you expect it, yet each will include many important milestones and lessons. You will have seasons of fruitful ministry in every location. Your ministry is always clear, but you will also encounter many who use bully tactics, shame, fear, and Scripture's weaponizing inaccurately to minimize your ministry opportunities.
Thriving in the Sweet Spot of Your Calling
You will thrive once you have distance from those who declare themselves false authority over your life. Distance will allow healing in the deepest wounds and clarity about God's character. Each lesson will build on the previous one, and your confidence will grow as the noise of other people's voices gives way for God's voice. You'll learn to walk more consistently with God's shoulder to shoulder, and as you do, your marriage will thrive.
You won't avoid conflict; it's a part of life. But you'll deal with it more efficiently as you clarify who you are fighting for and how God is calling you to live on mission.
Remember you are always clay in the potter's hands
There are several references to God's people as clay in the potter's hands. But there aren't any moments where God says he is finished molding the clay. He never says he is finished shaping us. Live like pliable clay. Don't ever set on a shelf and demand to dry out. You have a unique calling, and you can only fulfill it if you remain teachable, tuned to God's next adventure.
"Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Isaiah 64:8