“My momma was my girlfriend, but she died in the earthquake… My daddy was my boyfriend, but he’s not here anymore.”
The conversation has been on repeat inside my mind for the last four years. In that moment, an 11-year-old boy absolutely rocked my world, accidentally exposing me to the sobering, heartbreaking reality of Haiti through his incomplete understanding of the English language. There, sitting on the uneven edge of a dilapidated wall in the tiny village of Minoterie, a little boy named Kanzi took Haiti from my head to my heart. You’ve seen the pictures. You’ve heard the stories. Poverty, homelessness, and unemployment are rampant. Living conditions deplorable. Infrastructure nonexistent. But you don’t really get it… Not yet.
You’ve gotta see it for yourself.
Even in America, two-dimensional images of extreme poverty are not unfamiliar to eyes that have become calloused to the evidences of need. Honestly, I don’t know what to attribute that to. Are we a cold, heartless society? I would like to think not. Are we simply oblivious to the plight of the destitute? Maybe. Distracted by the trappings of our consumerism? Probably. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really hit you until you’re on a yellow school bus headed out of Port-Au-Prince, drenched in your own sweat, staring out at the tents… miles and miles of tents. Until you notice that even that even the cows are malnourished. Until you watch 15 people emerge from a hut that shouldn’t be able to house more than four. The moment when you realize that what you perceive as “unlivable” is considered “normal.” Whenever you reach YOUR moment, it hits you- THIS IS REAL. The pictures, videos, and testimonials don’t even come close to touching the reality. Haiti is a place in desperate need of help.
But that’s only Day 1. The next revelation is overwhelming. By day 3, an even more astounding truth is making itself clear: They are HAPPY. It’s inconceivable- How could they possibly be happy?? They have nothing. Yet somehow, against all odds, they are content and filled with joy. By the end of the week, you realize that these incredible people- these gracious, loving, generous people- have given you more than you could ever possibly have given them. You went there to serve them, did you not? But you walked away having been served and ministered to in a manner far more significant than brick and mortar, food and shelter. They touched your heart and forever altered your perspective. You will never see the world the same.
Much is made of what Haiti DOESN’T have. Though the nation may be in sore need of a great many things, it also possesses two resources that can neither be quantified nor monetized: A rich, vibrant culture, and a resilient, generous people. The first time I went to Haiti, I set out unconsciously believing that I possessed a multitude of gifts that I could bestow upon a people in need (education, knowledge, spiritual maturity, technical expertise, etc.). But then I became acutely aware of my own cultural arrogance, realizing that deep down I believed that we Americans had it all right, and that we had journeyed there essentially as a generous act of cultural imperialism. The conviction of this self-discovery led me to the conclusion that it is they that had much to teach me, not the other way around. The impression that the people and their culture have left on me is as remarkable as the nation’s beautiful coasts and as lasting as the sloping mountains.
Despite the obvious challenges and disparities within the nation, the progress is astounding! Each time I have returned, the signs of growth and improvement are evident. Yes, this is in part because of the generosity of foreigners that have given of their excess time and money to serve the country. But much more so, the progress should be attributed to the incredible spirit of the Haitian people, who in their struggle have battled both internal forces of economic and political turmoil and the external forces of natural disaster.
Each time I have visited Haiti, God has touched my heart and revealed himself to me in the unlikeliest of ways. He has allowed me to forge unbreakable bonds with special human beings that are so much more than teammates and classmates. I pray that on this day, as I set out for Haiti for the fourth time, that He will convict me, move me, shape me, and reveal himself to me like never before. I pray that I will be His witness through both my words and my actions. I pray that I can give back to Haiti a small portion of all it has given to me.
For one week, I will be cut off from the conveniences of technology and the connections to our society. In doing so, I will now be ushered into the presence of God, who is the defender of the oppressed and father to the fatherless. Pray for me and these other Sooners as we set out on this incredible journey!
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I made an appointment with God.
Well… Not exactly… I made an appointment with Jenny, to talk about God… Same thing right?
At Michelangelo’s Coffee on Main St., I’ve lived out my spiritual journey over the last 5 years. Though the faces on the other side of the table have changed (as has my preferred flavor of mocha), the purpose has not. Most recently, Jenny Carmichael (look her up she’s awesome) has been my spiritual sparring partner, and subject of debate has been A.W Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy.
On this particular day, a leisurely coffeeshop chat didn’t really fit with my busy schedule, but I felt bad about canceling, so I kept it on. For quite some time, we discoursed about the nature of God using a lot of annoyingly big words that would probably make us seem pretentious and self-absorbed.
In the middle of my monologue about God’s divinity, we were abruptly interrupted by an unwelcome visitor; a homeless man stopped in front of our table and commented on the coolness of the weather. We had a friendly exchange, but he loitered long past the window for trading pleasantries, so I closed my book and just…. Talked to him (though trying to disguise my discomfort). Piece by piece, he constructed the fragments of his story.
“They call me Thirsty Joe”
No, his thirst isn’t for water. It’s for vodka.
He wants vodka, but he doesn’t get paid until May 3rd.
Yes, he knows it’s not good for him.
Can you believe that he didn’t drink for 24 years??
But after his wife died eight years ago, he fell off the wagon.
24 years they were married, and he never touched alcohol. She took him home as a one-night stand and couldn’t get rid of him.
Yes, he knows the Lord, and he’s got a cross necklace under his jacket to prove it.
He got saved, baptized, and married all in the same week.
But that was a long time ago.
He’s gotta be getting on now… The weather is getting a little cold
Every so often, God punches you right in the stomach. In special moments, He touches your heart, takes your breath away, and leaves you speechless. Yes, even me, the guy that always has something to say, was speechless. In complete silence, I watched Joe head west on Main St. until he was completely out of sight, and then I turned to face my own emotions. As riveting as the content was, the book stayed closed. As stimulating the conversation, mouths stayed shut, save only the words needed to pray for Joe.
When my precious vocabulary struggled to elaborate on the attributes of God, He instead revealed himself to me through the story of a broken man. As my heart was overcome with empathy, I experienced but a fraction of the love and compassion of my Heavenly Father. Yes, God loves me, the lifelong Christian who seemingly has it all together, that has consistently pursued a relationship with Him. But when Jesus came, He didn’t really hang with Ty. If He was in Norman today, He would probably be with Joe. He beckons to the weary and the broken, offering rest. God loves Joe. He is CRAZY about Joe. Joe’s brokenness breaks the heart of God, who longs to be Joe’s Healer. On this day, as I was trying to unravel the complex mystery of God’s divine nature with the tools of my head and of my heart, God allowed me to feel how simple He really is:
God is Love
I looked for God in the writings of a brilliant theologian. I found Him in the story of a homeless alcoholic.
A week ago, the NCAA Division I Council adopted a package of recruiting rules changes that will go into effect if it is approved by the NCAA Board of Directors on April 26th. As an advocate for student-athlete welfare and a participant in the NCAA ‘s legislative process, I feel the need to share my thoughts on not only this rules package, but also the current state of Division 1 football recruiting as a whole.
To start, let’s talk about the package in three parts: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
1. EARLY OFFICIAL VISITS!!!! (April, May, June)
I have campaigned for early official visits for years, and this adamant belief in the need for them is rooted in my own experience. As a high school junior, I committed to the University of Oklahoma and completely ended my recruitment, even though I had never even gotten a chance to visit Stanford, one of my other top choices. Stanford is in the opposite corner of the nation as Apopka, Florida, and I could not afford to go visit campus. September 1st was the start of paid official visits, but I couldn’t wait until then. I committed early partially because I was ready, but also because I felt like I had to. The reality of the recruiting landscape is that the timeline has been moved up. Earlier offers translates into earlier commitments, which result in spots being filled sooner. I felt that if I didn’t commit, someone else would, and I would be stripped of a chance to fulfill a childhood dream. I am so thankful I chose Oklahoma, but I was not able to make a fully-informed decision due to outdated recruiting regulations. I am so grateful that the NCAA has voted to allow earlier visits! In doing so, we are allowing prospective student-athletes to make the most informed decision possible.
2. Hard Cap on Signees
A signing class has now been limiting to just 25 people, and I believe this is a win for student-athletes. All too often, we hear stories of young men who are left without a scholarship because a school oversigned and then were forced to make tough decisions on who to award a scholarship to. This rule effectively eliminates oversigning, which is a big step in the right direction.
3. An extra coach!
Some may roll their eyes and label this another exorbitant expenditure, but I believe it is absolutely necessary. The player to coach ratio in football is far greater than in most other sports. Adding another on-field, full-time assistant provides student-athletes with better quality instruction and a more personal experience.
4. Satellite Camp Regulation
Outlawing satellite camps entirely was a gross overstep of boundaries, for satellite camps do greatly benefit high school recruits as much as they do colleges. That being said, satellite camps did need some regulation, for their previous format was rife with opportunities for exploitation and loopholes for shady practices to thrive. Restricting camps to four year institutions prevents possible nefarious dealings with the high schools of prospective athletes, while limiting the total number of days (but allowing greater flexibility in scheduling) should go a long way to eliminate overuse and exploitation.
December Signing Day
I was all for an early signing day. Most everyone is in agreement that it is necessary. Myself, and many other athletes, have advocated for an early signing day, but we wanted it BEFORE OUR SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL (Late July or August). An increasing number of student-athletes are committing earlier (due to being offered earlier), and these athletes are ready to make their decision final. A great many want to officially end their recruitment before their senior seasons start so that they can focus all of their effort on their last season of true amateurism and enjoy their time with their high school programs. This desire was clearly communicated, yet the Council ended up going with a December signing day that does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to meet the expressed needs of student-athletes. This is a six-week bump that “saves” athletes from having to go through the recruiting process at the only time where they actually have time to focus on it. I believe this change will have minimal effect and is entirely self-serving.
IAWP Hiring Restrictions
“Individual Associated With a Prospect.” That’s what the mysterious acronym stands for. In an effort to eliminate a loophole that allows for shady player-coach “package deals”, the NCAA decided to burn the bridge from high school to college entirely. High school coaches are no longer allowed to be hired to off-field coaching staff positions without a two year recruiting penalty. Essentially, the NCAA just banned high school coaches from its ranks. It is extremely rare for a high school coach to be awarded a position coaching job. Rather, many of these men get in the door through off-field positions like Analyst or Director of Player Development. After a time of tutelage, they transition to on-field coaching roles. This natural progression has now been outlawed because of a fear of malicious exploitation. We could’ve fixed the issue in less drastic ways, but instead we went nuclear and laid our high school coaching community to waste. This is the best parallel I can use to explain: The Death Star explosion. This would be like if the Empire self-detected the tiny weakness within its design, and, rather than simply closing that stupid port, blew up the entire space station. Nerd rant complete.
As the son of a high school coach and a former athlete that is very grateful for the high school coaching community, this component of the package was unpalatable to me.
The Bigger Issue: The Culture
While I am obviously upset with some components of this package, I am very relieved that we did something. It’s not perfect, but there are some really good things in here. That being said, there are larger, more threatening issues within the realm of football recruiting that need to be addressed soon for the good of college athletics. To me, these issues trace back to the recruiting culture, and are affecting our nation’s culture as a whole.
A Culture of Unaccountability
On both sides, our words mean nothing. Players commit and decommit every day. College dole out way more offers than they can accept, and often times either label the offers “non-committable” or they pull them at a later date. No one is held accountable. The word “commitment” has become click bait for likes and retweets, rather than a principle of life that is to be treated with reverence. What are we teaching our kids? That a man’s word is cheap and meaningless. On both sides, we are committed until a better opportunity comes along. A school from a better conference. A player with more stars. College football recruiting is entirely devoid of accountability, and is making a mockery of “Commitment.”
*cue the latest ridiculous Bleacher Report Commitment video*
A Culture of Egotism
The insatiable ego of the adolescent is but a weakness to be exploited. For the 18 months leading up to Signing Day, coaches and fans alike do their best to woo the top-rated recruits to their school by any means necessary. We treat 17 year olds like celebrities, praising their every move, showering them with attention, and then begging them to give our school a chance. Through our actions, we as a society are validating a notion that has been slowly solidifying since the day they found that first letter in the mailbox: that their value is found in their athletic ability.
The funny thing is most high schools kids don’t even necessarily deserve it. Hear me out. Recruiting isn’t about who the BEST football players are. It’s about finding the players with the greatest POTENTIAL. We are recruiting kids based upon what we THINK they COULD do, not necessarily what they have already accomplished. Ask the high school coaches. Yes, sometimes the best football players are the highest rated recruits, but many times the best high school football players don’t have the measurables or ceiling to excel at the next level. Some of the best 17-year-old football players in the nation are tapped out, and by the time they are 21, they cannot compare to guys with freakish athletic ability that finally received nutrition, coaching, and strength & conditioning development once they got to college.
So, in essence, we drown high schoolers in undeserved adoration and inflate their egos to whatever size necessary to solicit a signature (often accompanied with a puppy, parachute, or zombie apocalypse video). And then, they get to campus, their senses dulled by the intoxicating cocktail of worship and attention, and we are surprised and upset when they are selfish, egotistical, and entitled, though it was us who made them that way. By unashamedly appealing to the egos of kids that are still in a fragile stage of emotional development, we are actually crippling them and creating the problems of our future in the process. In the name of wins and losses, we are willing to tell kids whatever they want to hear, even if it’s not what they need to hear. We have to do better as fans and coaches by valuing the potential man more than the potential player, and then translating that priority system to the way we recruit.
Obviously, I believe a great many coaches do it the right way, as I believe that there are a lot of incredible young people entering the world of college football. But, when I look around at some of the poisonous cultural issues that are plaguing college football as a whole, I trace it back to where it all started: The Recruitment.
Often times, we state the degree of our love by professing what we would do for the other. In that mindset, giving your life for someone is the ultimate act of love. Who could argue that?
But what if I told you that your life may not be the greatest gift you can give?
Especially on Easter, the mere thought may be perceived as sacrilege. But bear with me…
The ultimate sacrifice varies from individual to individual: What do you prize most?
So what is your defining desire- your greatest love? Is it your life? Material possessions? Loved ones? Your identity?
Whatever IT is, IT is the greatest gift you could give, the most difficult sacrifice you could make.
Though for some life itself is the most valued possession, for others the most cherished prize is not the breath of life, but the principles and beliefs that comprise our identity. It is not WHAT I am (flesh and blood) that I am so unwilling to give up as it is WHO I am (My integrity, values, passions).
It would be far more excruciating to surrender my identity than to surrender my life, which makes my identity the greatest gift I have to offer.
So, on this Easter Sunday, I ask myself “What about Jesus?” Jesus gave His life for me on the cross, and does this thesis not cheapen what He did that day at Golgotha? HIS SACRIFICE WAS THE GREATEST IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND TY. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THAT!!!!
But what if I told you that, on that hill called Calgary nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus’ life was the least of what He gave?
Men die every day, and far too many of them die unjustly. Jesus was neither the first nor the last man to die for a cause, and many good men have laid down their lives for others.
So what was the big deal about THIS man and His sacrifice?
It was not that He gave up His life, but that he surrendered His Holiness. Jesus is God, and He never needed the body anyways. Look past the blood, the nails, and the thorns! Those are the visible evidences of His crucifixion, but there is another: The Sin. Jesus, the only perfect man to ever live, the Holy Son of God, took on the enormity of the sins of mankind (past, present, and future), and in doing so sacrificed His righteousness for us. His righteousness was the one thing that separated Him, God, from us, Man, and yet He willingly gave it up for us!!
Jesus didn’t “just” die for us. He gave up His place in heaven to come to Earth. He sacrificed His holiness and embodied our sin. He went to Hell in our place. Hallelujah!
We tend to get too caught up in Jesus’ death. If Jesus had stayed dead, he would just be another martyr. In Acts 5, when the apostles were called before the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee named Gamaliel points out that many men came before Jesus “claiming to be somebody”, but each of them was killed, and their following scattered. And the same would have been true of Jesus had He remained in the grave. But He did not! After three days, He rose again, defeating death and making it possible for us to have eternal life by entering into a relationship with Him!
If He had remained in the ground, He would have been remembered as just another martyr. Instead, He is the Savior of the World!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
There were a few times where I laid my head down and knew that our offense had been shut down in every aspect of the game.These coaches and players deserve a ton of credit for shutting us down on these days. Though each of these losses were tremendous learning experiences, I still hate losing.
Brent Venables- Clemson- 2014
Their gameplan was absolutely mind-numbing. I could not have designed a more perfect defensive gameplan to combat that specific offensive gameplan if I had put it together myself. The game itself was a nightmare. They ran fronts and brought blitzes that they had never shown on tape. They disguised their schemes incredibly well, they showed tremendous variety in their packages, and then once the ball was snapped they played with reckless abandon. We lost 5 games that year, but this might’ve been the only one we lost up front.
In both my contests against Venable’s Tiger defense, I came away very impressed with the small things that they did to create doubt and confusion on our side. Clemson resembled an NFL defense both in talent and scheme much more than any other team we played. By breaking their own tendencies, showing weird looks, and bluffing blitzes, they were able to force me to be just a bit hesitant. As a guy that knew the playbook inside and out, and that prided myself on understanding defensive scheme and tendency, it was not often that I was hesitant in my decision-making on the field. But in those games, they did just enough to cause me to doubt my own calls just a tad, and that has an amplified effect on the big stage.
Phil Bennett- Baylor- 2013
This was the Thursday night shellacking in Waco against the Bears in their all blacks. Like Clemson, they did some things that we had never seen them do before, and we did a poor job of adjusting. The week before, we had pounded the ball down the field against Texas Tech with different variations of our Power scheme. Bennett and the Bears completely took away our best play with a series of exaggerated slants that made running power nearly impossible. Our entire strong side running game was shut down. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s actually much harder to run AWAY from a blitz than to run right into it. When you know a blitz is coming, the best thing to do is to check a run right into the teeth of it, and many times you can gash the defense for a big play. Unfortunately, in this game, we didn’t have many weakside runs in, and by the time we started getting anything going, the game was already out of hand. This game, we weren’t ready for it, and they took it to us and shut down the ground game. However, in every meeting since, they continue to run the same high-risk slants and blitzes, and they get gashed.
Gary Patterson- TCU- 2014 and 2015
Patterson and his staff are one of the premier defensive staffs in America. They are schematically sound, their players play with exceptional technique, and they play HARD. In 2014, they got pressure on us throughout the day, and we had trouble running the ball. Aside from Clemson, it was our next worse game up front. 2015, though they didn’t beat us, was even more impressive. They had marginal defensive talent and depth due to a rash of injuries throughout the year. Yet, somehow, they managed to slow down the most potent offense I ever played on. Part of that is due to the injury of Baker, but even before he left they were causing us problems, and his absence cannot explain for our lack of success on the ground. They disguised blitzes and used some run-game twists to stifle us throughout the second half. Year in and year out, the Horned Frogs defensive linemen are the best at reading blocks of everyone we play. The TCU defensive staff is very, very good.
Worst Defensive Gameplans
C’mon now….. I might wanna get a job as a coach! Besides, we want these gameplans to get pulled off the shelf again! 🙂
I love big words. I love debating philosophy and ideology. Politics, history, and religion. But I also love this game called football, and I would be remiss if I didn’t have some fun, dumb it down, and talk some ball from time to time as I reminisce on my quickly fading college football career.
That being said, what follows is a jumble of bests and worsts of my career at Oklahoma (2012-2015).
Best Players I Played Against
*I only included players I actually PLAYED against. Players that I watched from the sideline in 2013 and parts of 2012 are not included. Neither are skinny DBs.
Vic Beasley-DE/OLB- Clemson- As the rest of the NFL found out this year, Beasley is a DAWG. He possesses the unique combination of speed and power that makes him incredibly dangerous as a pass rusher. He is an absolute physical specimen that jumps off the film.
Andrew Billings- NG- Baylor– At a level of football where nearly every interior lineman can bench 400 pounds, it is not often that you encounter a brute whose strength is truly amazing. When you lock on with Billings, you immediately feel that he is much stronger than anyone else you have ever blocked. He started as a raw talent, but got better each year. I hope he gets healthy so he can excel in the NFL.
Grady Jarrett- DT- Clemson- He’s that stubby defensive lineman that just took down Tom Brady three times in the Super Bowl. At 6 feet tall, he doesn’t look like much, but he has phenomenal hand usage, and he reads blocks exceptionally. The exact opposite of Billings, he beats you with technique, which I respect.
AJ Johnson- LB- Tennessee- The predator. The guy looks the part, and he flies around to the ball. He was not the most technically or schematically sound, and he took a lot of chances to make plays, but he made up for it with freakish athletic ability. Once a projected first-round pick, his career was derailed after allegations of sexual assault.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin- LB- Tennessee– He is not nearly as freakishly talented as Johnson, but he more than made up for it. Within the system, he was probably a more reliable and productive player. With a relentless motor and physical playing style, he made plays all over the field. In 2015, he recorded nearly 20 tackles against us, several of which prevented what would have been huge plays. He missed much of this year due to injury and is now preparing for the draft.
Derek Barnett- DE- Tennessee- Just a great all-around football player. He started against us as a freshman, and he steadily progressed each year. If I would have played him this year (his last and best), he would be higher on the list).
Ryan Mueller- DE- Kansas St– The poor man’s JJ Watt. This guy played harder than any other player I have ever witnessed. I distinctly remember watching him on tape in a play against Oklahoma St. JW Walsh ran a zone read. Mueller squeezed causing JW to pull the ball and run for about 15 yards. Mueller spun 360 degrees and pursued Walsh all the way down the field causing him to step out of bounds. Even though he had no chance of even touching JW, much less tackling him, he dove through the air and landed flat on his face. He gave everything he had on every play.
Honorable mention (guys I didn’t actually play in the games against)- Haha Clinton-Dix (Bama), CJ Mosley (Bama), Arthur Brown (K-State), Jason Verrett (TCU), Stephone Anthony (Clemson- was suspended for most of our game)
Most Overrated Players
Shawn Oakman- DE- Baylor– I made this list with one man in mind. If it weren’t for Twitter memes, Oakman would’ve remained in relative obscurity where he belonged. He was very gifted, and the most physically imposing athlete that I have ever seen, but he was soft, incredibly lazy, and technically subpar. Even if he would not have gotten convicted, he would have never made it at the next level.
Manti Te’o- LB- Notre Dame– Don’t get me wrong, Te’o was a very good player. But of all the players we played in my time in Norman, this is the one that was a Heisman finalist. He made a lot of tackles, but a lot of people didn’t realize that he made so many tackles because he was never blocked. Louie Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, and Kapron Lewis-Moore were very good, and their occupation of double teams allowed Te’o to get recognition.
Shaq Lawson- DE- Clemson– I remain adamant that Lawson was not nearly as impressive as he was made out to be. He might’ve been a better pass rusher, but Kevin Dodd (the other end) was a better all-around player. Lawson took a lot of plays off, and didn’t want to be physical unless he had to be.
4. Damontre Moore- DE- Texas A&M– When we played A&M in the Cotton Bowl, he was at the top of all the mock drafts. He had a lot of sacks, but statistics can be misleading. Most of his sacks came through protection errors, schematic mismatches, or sheer luck. His hips were incredibly tight, and we knew he wouldn’t live up to expectations as a pro.
The Best That Never Were
Sadly, there are a lot of teammates of mine that were insanely talented, yet they did not finish their careers as Sooners. They could have been household names. It’s crucial that the staff identifies potential at-risk athletes and invests in them early on to prevent these mistakes from being repeated year in and year out.
Trey Metoyer- WR– The guy was incredible. 5XL gloves. His hands were disproportionate to his body. In a backyard football game, he was everyone’s first pick. But in an organized offense, he had trouble with the playbook, and then eventually was removed from the team after some trouble with the law (I’ll just leave it at that).
Gary Simon- Corner– This guy was the next big thing. He walked into the Huff first week of freshman year and windmill dunked off a standing vertical…. IN FLIP FLOPS. He played some as a freshman, and everyone was convinced he would become a lockdown corner opposite Aaron Colvin as a sophomore. Then he went home after the bowl game and never came back.
John Michael McGee- OG– A raw but gifted Army All-American that quit abruptly three days into fall camp.
Mike Onuoha- DE– Longest. Arms. Ever. The former basketball player was just starting to tap into his potential as a football player when he was removed from the team.
Michiah Quick- Corner– Highly rated recruit that played early on at wideout, then moved to corner this past year. He was just starting to takeoff when he suffered a knee injury versus Texas. A month later, he was removed from the team.
I’ll be back soon with more bests and worsts, including: games, bowl experiences, teammates, and opposing gameplans. Be sure to check ’em out!
The late, great Jim Valvano asserted that there are three things that we should do as human beings: laugh, think, and cry.
I find myself spending more and more time doing the second of this triad: Thinking. I do not believe it is coincidental that my level of critical thought seems to be positively correlated to the amount of time I spend with my nose in a book.
Side note* My current reading selections are “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, “Call an Audible” by Daron Roberts, and “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. “Atlas Shrugged” might be the best piece of literature I’ve ever encountered. If you have book suggestions, please send them in!
A recent passage in a book brought the concept of Purpose to the center of my attention. From David to Aristotle to Einstein to Bieber, the preeminent philosophers of every age have weighed in on the purpose and meaning of life. But today, in a world oversaturated with information and overpopulated by things, we are at a crisis of purpose.
All too often, we derive our identity from the material objects we surround ourselves with. Cars. Clothes. Gadgets. Homes. But let’s take it a step farther. Job titles. Accolades. Reputations. Relationships. We are looking for meaning in all the wrong places.
The sources of our purpose have been contaminated. We have come to construct our identity using the material and immaterial creations of our own hands. I cannot help but feel that we have it all backwards. Man is meant to breathe purpose and meaning into the works of his hands and of his mind, not the other way around! Objects and ideas that are the fruit of Man’s considerable capacity for innovation and progress are meant to serve him, not to be served by him. These Things that seem to control our existence, would have no meaning were they not given it by their inventor. We impart purpose to things. We DO NOT derive purpose from things.
As my mind careened down this path of purpose, identity, and meaning, I stopped short. This line of thinking, with its celebration of the spirit of man, may be inspiring and stimulating and beautiful, but it’s so… Secular. Where is God in my rationale? Is this not a direct contradiction to my belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God?
In the height my existential crisis, the answer hit me. Like finding the missing corner piece in an intricate puzzle, a sudden realization gave me unbelievable clarity. I had been thinking about it all wrong.
“Man and His Inventions”
“Creator and His Creations”
This paradigm shift made all the difference in my understanding. GOD, our Creator, endows Man with a distinct purpose, and then Man, in turn, creates for himself and bestows purpose upon his own creations. But purpose flows downward, from a sovereign God all the way to the inanimate byproducts of Man.
God ⇒ Man ⇒ Objects/Ideas/Words
In the above diagram, the arrows represent the purposes given by God and Man, which may not always be the same. The first arrow cannot be flipped, for we are incapable of forcing an omnipotent God to serve our purpose. But the second arrow can, and when we allow our own meaning and purpose as men to be taken from the things of this world, we will find ourselves consistently unhappy. We find ourselves at our most content when the arrows themselves are identical.
When we align ourselves with God’s purpose in our own lives, and then in turn manifest that same purpose in the material and immaterial things that we create, we will have found that we are in the center of His will.