Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is the Beginning

Tonight is the night before two very important events. One is deeply solemn and grave while the other is jovial and exciting. I hope that the inclusion of two such vastly different examples is not offensive as that was not my intention in any way.

I am writing this on the eve of the true opening game of Alabama Football for tomorrow we meet a real foe: Penn State. If you know me at all, you have a deep understanding of what it is to be an Alabama fan. I am a pure bred, die-hard Alabama fan. I come from a long line of Alabama tradition on both my mother’s and father’s side…that is what makes me pure bred. We bleed crimson and white. From an early age we were taught "Rammer Jammer", to tell Auburn jokes and that an elephant says “Roll Tide.”

While most are aware of the thirteen national championships, twenty-two SEC championships and more titles than any other school in the country, Alabama Crimson Tide Football has been no stranger to controversy, down turns and disappointments. Since Coach Gene Stallings left us in 1996, the team has ridden a roller coaster of wins, losses, probations and vacated games. Last year, the team finally came out of the metaphorical tunnel and saw the light with another National Championship under our (relatively) new coach Nick Saban.

It is with this controversy in mind that I now offer advice from Alabama’s greatest coach. Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was arguably the greatest coach to have ever lived. During his twenty-five year tenure as Alabama's head coach he collected six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982 he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history. When fans remember the great man, his gentle southern drawl that offered such great wisdom is second only in memory to his hounds tooth hat.

Coach Bryant was often known to carry a poem in his pocket. The following seemed particularly poignant:

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever.
Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be a gain, not loss - good, not evil.
Success, not failure in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.

Another, far more grievous event is being remembered tomorrow as it is the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Everyone over the age of 14 remembers that day vividly. We remember it as a day of despair and agony. I was in New York last weekend with a friend and we toured Ground Zero. One of the tour guides made the remark that Ground Zero was “construction out of destruction.” He was right. What happened that day was destruction. But today we see a stronger, more unified nation and city. This country has endured numerous tests of strength and character and each time we have resurfaced stronger. What better testament to living life to the fullest than our nation’s resilience?

I include this in this post to remind each of you that destruction is often needed before construction can happen. All the things that are going right in my life now could not have happened if it had not been for the destruction of my marriage. I don’t believe that there is any one thing, or even a twelve step plan that will lead you to “divorce recovery.” I believe that we pave that road ourselves in personal ways that suit each of us best. But I do know it is a conscience decision to be happy and that each of us – divorced, single or married for 39 years – make that decision on a daily basis. Sometimes, you have to create new ways to find that happiness. But at some point, you have to view the divorce as a beginning rather than an ending. This is the opportunity that God has presented to you to recreate yourselves into something greater than anyone or even yourself have ever envisioned. Just when the nation assumes there is no room for another championship title, or the world expects the defeated nation to collapse, force yourself to reinvent that passion and drive that will create in you a winner. God truly has given you this day and He wants you to live it to the fullest. He says so in John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I want to share what has been happening in my personal life. This is something that I have been hesitant to do too frequently because I don’t want to come across as tooting my own horn (although if I were going to toot it would be to the tune of “Yea! Alabama!”) In January when I began this blog, I was at a pretty low place. I felt as though I had little to offer and had nothing to which I could look forward. When my friend suggested that I write the blog I was so depressed that I felt like I had nothing to put on paper of any interest. Now, with almost 1,000 views, I am seeing this whole blog thing a little differently. Actually, I am looking at the bulk of my life differently. I genuinely “want it to be a gain, not loss - good, not evil. Success, not failure in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.”

The price for a day is expensive and I have frivolously wasted too many on junk. It was one of the friends who encouraged me to start the blog who was also praying hard for me at the same time. She wasn’t just praying for the blog but she was praying for my personal physical and mental health. She was praying that I would stop wasting my days on junk. Some of the things in the pile of junk were my eating and exercising habits. I am extremely overweight. I have struggled with my weight my entire life. Through the power of prayer, God has given me a whole new take on those aspects of my life. I am happy to report that I have lost almost fifty pounds. This is just the tip of the ice berg; just wait for later posts when I write that I have lost one hundred or even two hundred pounds…I promise they are coming. I view the outdoors differently. I even want to go CAMPING with my daughter. I know! It IS a whole new me! I am breaking out of the confines that I boxed myself into for a better and greater me; for a better and greater future for my daughter and me and for a better and greater offering to my God. I am not going to waste one more day.

The current Alabama football coach Nick Saban said after winning the 2009 BCS National Championship, “I want everybody here to know, this is not the end. This is the beginning.” Dream big; work hard. And, don’t allow the thief to kill and destroy, use that thief to rebuild and form a new beginning for yourself.