This world will always leave a void in my heart. I just hope that the void is big enough to collect all of the endless treasures from God.
The news of LeBron James going back to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers has truly struck me with such great awe the past two days. The story of an out of this world basketball phenom who left his hometown and the team that drafted him to ‘chase championships’ was once a story of betrayal, anger, and disgust. How can a person who once carried a whole major city; their marketing, economy, trust, hope, etc. turn away from his home, one that he often proclaims as a major part and influence in his life? How can a man who promises to bring a championship to his home leave to chase that same beloved, and almost mythical championship at another city? ‘How can the man we hoped in so much betray us?’, fans cried.
And here he is, four years since that betrayal, deciding to come back home. Deciding it isn’t about winning multiple championships for his own glory, but winning one for his home, winning one for the place that formed him as a person and the player he is today. He writes…
I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.
LeBron James’ return to Cleveland is not just about his own accolades anymore. It’s about giving back to his home. It’s not even about basketball anymore he writes. It’s about making a difference.
It truly is an inspiring story, to watch a man mature before our ‘very eyes’ (and by that I mean through the television screen and the endless articles about LeBron). That he realizes it isn’t about himself. That there is some other ‘calling.’
As I reflect on this, again, I become awestruck. What an amazing story. And I began to realize, this story can be very similar to many other Catholics’ stories.
When did I leave I’m not exactly too sure. Where did I go, again I can’t say one-hundred percent. However, I can say this. It wasn’t about my home. It wasn’t about the God who created and formed me. It was about me. It was about me chasing the personal accolades, in this case, the personal pleasures, satisfactions, rewards…it was about me appeasing myself. Lately it has been slowly revealed to me in various ways that those things that appease me can’t compare to the promise, the glory that my Home, my God, has for me.
It has led me to desire something far greater than my ‘championships’ I chased before. I now have a desire for something different. Just like LeBron, my calling, and all of our callings, are more than just about ‘basketball’, it’s more than just about ourselves and our glory. It’s about the greatest Glory. The one that seems almost unearnable, unachievable, unreachable, and impossible without God’s mercy and grace that He gives us each moment we decide to receive it.
So this is my desire, to be holy. To be the man that my true Home, made me. To be the man that God has designed me to be. To be the person that God created me to be. My desire is to proclaim the name of my Home, and to represent and portray my Home in each and every action, thought, and word spoken. My desire is to achieve and win the only ‘championship’ that is truly important in this life. To be one with God, to be united with Him in heaven.
LeBron writes this almost perfectly…
I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010.
For us Catholics, and more importantly for myself, what LeBron writes is true (and mostly relevant). We cannot achieve the ‘championship’ we desire ourselves, only God can promise that. And for most of us, the way to achieve this won’t start immediately, it will take work, prayer, love, humility, and faith.
And just as it is for LeBron, it will be a long process. One that may never end until our last breath.
"My patience will get tested. I know that." writes LeBron. However, I know with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, with faith in God’s great divine providence, and knowing that there is a plan laid out for us, we will all definitely achieve it.
So, with faith, hope, and great confidence, I shout to my Lord, my One and Only Home in this life, ‘I’m returning back to You. I’m coming Home.’
Recently, I have been struggling with a few things.
Yes, I am still struggling from feeling left out and from the lack of time that I get to spend with my friends (or the lack of time they want to spend with me). Honestly, I get the feeling that they may be purposely leaving me out of things, or simply just don’t want to hang out, and it actually really hurts. I got the notion I was missed when I was in Ohio, yet when I’m here it doesn’t appear that anyone wants to make time to hang out, however, I may be narcissistic about the whole thing.
I just feel so unsatisfied here. I feel so, unfulfilled. I also feel like I’m missing out on the joys that my friends may be feeling together.
However, I do have hope. I realize that all of what I feel is simply a result of the unfulfilling nature of this world. I know that I’ll never be fully satisfied from anything. I know that Jesus can only fill whatever empty space I feel inside of my heart. The space that I foolishly expect this world to fill. I know that this empty space I have in my heart can only be occupied by One. And I know that when the time comes, this space will overflow with a Greatness like no other.
From the desire of being loved, From the desire of being honored, From the desire of being consulted, From the desire of being praised, From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
There are very specific and isolating moments in my life where I realize that I don’t have that ‘best friend’. All of my other friends seem to have comfortably paired off with their ‘go-to’ person, and due to my circumstances it appears that I am left without that person. The moments where I realize and believe this are (usually) dark moments, moments where I feel like I’m missing a part of life.
These moments are the ones that make me question my character or my overall appeal to people. I ask questions like… ‘Why is it so easy for people to have a best friend?’, ‘Why doesn’t anyone want to be my best friend’, ‘Why don’t I have that person I can always go to?’, ‘Who do I share my hopes and dreams with’, ‘Who will I share my intricate thoughts with?’, or the worse one of all, ‘Am I going to be alone forever?’
These moments hurt me the most, and it’s in these moments that make me desperate for someone to just be everything for me: a helping hand, a loving heart, a listening ear, a remember-er of all I have to say, a dreamer that shares my dreams, a sacrificing and beautiful soul; a person made just for me (romantically or not).
I remember discussing this to a friend of mine, and her response truly marveled me.
'You know what your problem is? You're asking for something/someone only God can be.'
It completely stunned me. Her response was extremely simple, yet intensely mystifying. You mean to tell me for years now I’ve been trying to find someone that doesn’t exist in this world? It was such a humbling thought.
That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped having these thoughts or feeling the hurt. However it has given me hope, that maybe one day I’ll find someone to be my best friend, and they’ll actually have achievable expectations. Maybe for once I won’t dump all of my hope on this future friend, like I have done in past relationships. It has reassured me that God will always be that ‘Person’ for me, and that He will also provide that person for me according to His will. For now, I need to trust that He is wrapping His arms around me, and consoling me as long as I allow a Him to.
Only God can provide everything for me. Only God can be my everything.
"I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even at night my heart exhorts me. I keep the LORD always before me;
with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, For you will not abandon my soul [to Sheol]” Psalm 16:7-10
The Catechism says that it’s impossible to perfectly describe God. God is truly perfect, all good, all loving; He is Infinite. To use feelings, emotions, adjectives that describe finite things, only helps us understand what He is, who He is, but does not perfectly describe God. He is more beautiful than the most beautiful thing You have ever seen. More loving than the person/people that love you the most. He is the Greatest Good, greater than whatever you may claim to be your greatest good.
And so, yesterday was only a testament to how great The Lord is. The feeling of great happiness, of immense satisfaction from the conversations shared, of great care and love from my friends. All of these truly warmed my heart. To see my Franciscan friends enjoy the company of my friends from home brought me true joy. To be with people who love me without question truly breaks my heart; The Lord is so amazing, to give me all these people.
But all of this I feel is only a fraction of joy and love that God is. I know God is greater than all of what I’ve felt, He is pure Joy, pure Love. A Joy and Love that I would sacrifice everything for. One that I will patiently wait for and One that I will always continue to work toward.