I am so proud to present a guest writer to this blog today. My grandson, Matt Northway, is a high school junior and track athlete who throws both the shot and discus. Sitting in the back of the team bus after a very long track meet, Matt wrote this piece on his iPhone.
“Trophies don’t go to those with a good beginning.” -Trip Lee
If you really think about it, it’s all about how we finish. While how we start can be an emotional setting point in our minds and hearts, sometimes we have to get past it. For example, an athlete may have a great start to a season but if he or she gets stuck in their performance and others start to catch up, well then that start of the season doesn’t seem as promising as it was before. A great line in a song made by Trip Lee is, “The trophies don’t go to those with a good beginning.”
It’s about how you finish. You can’t hit a good time or mark at the beginning of the season and give up for the rest. You have to put in work…a lot of work. And you’re going to have set backs, believe me. I’ve had more injuries than I can count, but it’s not all physical either. There’s a mental piece in everything you do. You have to build up your mental toughness and have courage. You will have set backs. But you have to get back up. You’re going to get tired and frustrated and your mental state has to be strong in order to make it.
You need to know who your identity rests in and why. When you hit those low places, you have to get out, but first you need to know how. Who holds your identity? Where do you get your strength from? Who do you feel you need acceptance from? Where or who do you go to when you’re stuck? Those are just a few questions you’re going to need to know the answer to in order to make it through life.
I would say one of the most important questions is, “Where or who do you go to when you’re stuck?” People will have different answers, but I can’t tell you enough how important mentors and church are in life. Now I know I’m talking about how it’s all about how you finish, but you gotta get to the finish first before you do that. Church first of all, is so important. That’s it. You need to go even on days even when you’re really not feeling it. Why? You can do all you want to reach God on your own, but there’s a point where we all need to come together and worship and learn about the Lord all together. Another reason is because a pastor or someone else will have something else to say that you never thought of before that can really help you in your faith walk. Or they can word things in a different way to help you understand what you don’t know. There are more reasons, but those are just a few.
Now, that’s also where the mentors come in. You may be a smart person and have a great life and all, but you don’t know everything. I’m sorry but you just don’t. Trust me I used to think that when I was a little kid and I still do sometimes, but trust me you don’t. The quicker you realize that the better. That’s where mentors can provide you with so much wisdom. How do you get that wisdom out of them though? Well, that’s where you have to invest time into relationships. Coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anything really. Just sit down and talk. I’m tired of seeing a generation that I’m a part of that doesn’t have social skills. We can’t reach out to someone through looking at a phone all the time.
You also never know when someone’s time is up or how much someone just needs to have someone else to talk to. I have a friend that I go to school with and throw with on the track team. This past summer, we had been practicing every day to get ready for spring season. One day he wanted to have practice a bit early in the morning. I had no idea why, but I was tired and I told him I would go in an hour or two. I had no idea why he wanted to meet so early. I later found out one of his older brothers had died the day before in a car crash on the way home from college. All he wanted was someone to talk to and a place to go where he knew he could blow off some steam with a friend that would be there for him. We never know what others are dealing with, but we need to make time to invest in to others.
When we go to church and invest time with others and talk and learn and chase after God with all our heart, things start to work out. But, there’s a misconception of that there is always a trophy at the end for those who finish strong or those that do well. That’s not true. Don’t like it? Too bad, welcome to life. You’re going to give it your all and you still won’t win sometimes. You won’t always win the championship or the Super Bowl or whatever. While there may not always be an earthly trophy, rest well knowing that our Father in Heaven prepares a place for those of us who believe in him. That alone can top any trophy or metal we can get in our lifetime.