At the top of my bucket list is writing a book. I’ve always wondered what I would write about. Would it be an extension of a feature about a big-time figure in the sports world? Would it be some kind of fiction story? It would obviously not have any scary or suspenseful things in it because I can’t handle that – hence the reason my DVR is full to overflowing with Hallmark movies.
Then it hit me a couple of months ago. Write a book about what God has done in my life, how he’s walked me through difficult seasons and the hope he brings on a daily basis. Y’all, this epiphany happened in September. And I kept pushing it off and pushing it off. Maybe once the summer comes, aka the Promised Land for sports writers when things die down for at least a few weeks.
But then as I got back into spending more time in the Word, Esther 4:14 kept coming to mind. So much so that Magnolia has a sign of it.
So here it is. We’ll see what happens next.
I write stories for a living. Definitely not fiction or else I’d be fired. I write about what thousands of people see in person or witness on a screen. I write about where they come from, what drives them, trying to add some personality to the persona of an athlete with his or her game face on under the lights.
Because out there, it’s what they do. But it’s not who they are.
I write about sports for a living. It’s what I do. But I’m trying this new thing where I don’t define myself by what I do. Because saying I’m a sports writer doesn’t command awe.
I remember when I thought it did. I was a year into my first job out of college as a sports writer at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Two photographers, my editor and I were in Abilene covering high school playoff baseball and softball. There was some big game on, I can’t remember what, so we decided to all meet up at Buffalo Wild Wings after our respective games ended.
We each had our laptops out working while we waited to be seated. This man walked up and asked us what we were doing. My editor responded that we were sports writers covering games in town. The man replied with a, “Wow,” before he asked us what event we were covering. His interest was piqued.
But when he heard what we were covering, his response was, “Man, that’s lame,” as he laughed and walked off. Obviously, I’m not downplaying high school sports. I played three of them during my time in school. But for a 23-year old trying to make a mark on the world, still trying to define what success looked like in a culture shaped by blue checks that accompany a Twitter handle, the total number of followers on different social media accounts and the amount of praise that potentially added weight to different accomplishments, it left a mark.
Had my job been what I did and not my identity at that time, I probably wouldn’t remember it four years later. But I do. Because what I did and who I was were so intertwined that it was hard to tell the difference. Maybe intertwined is a bad word, because when I use it I picture a braid. Each of the three strands is usually pretty easy to tell apart. I guess the better way to put it was that what I did spilled over into who I was that it was hard to separate the two. It wasn’t like oil and water. It was like Gatorade and water. One adds color, but there’s no way to separate it once it’s mixed.
If I’m being honest, I still struggle with this. My day can get better with an email praising my work or if the number of likes on a tweet reaches the double digits. It can also go spiraling into worse with an angry phone call or an irritated email.
I would love to tell you that I’m like the girl wemmick in Max Lucado’s “You Are Special.” I pray that one day the gray dot stickers of rejection fail to stick to me and that the gold stars of praise also slide right off.
Because writing about sports doesn’t make me special.
Making sure I appear to always have it together doesn’t make me special.
Pleasing everyone won’t make me special.
Being defined by what I do will never make me special. I am special because of who I am.
I am a Christian, which means I am a daughter of the King. I know, I just used the corny saying you’ve seen plastered on shiplap signs, t-shirts and coffee mugs. Please forgive me. But it’s true.
Think about a princess. Does she try to do everything right, be good at everything and never fail because she’s trying to live up to her title? No. She does all of those things because it’s who she is.
And it’s who I am.