I always viewed 30 as a far off number. In fact I often remember saying as a young person, that 30 year old people were “incapable of changing their opinions”. That once you had got to a certain point in life, you pretty much were the way you were. And while that may be true for some, I sincerely hope that my growth as a person has only just begun. I think the one major difference is that I have a new set of people around me to help facilitate that growth, and their roles are much different. I alone need to be the driving force behind development now. But that doesn’t mean I have to be done developing. When I look back at the first 30, the only emotion it triggers is thankful. So many people of my “village” (you know, the one it take to raise a child) have helped raise me and mold me into the man I am. It only makes sense for me to look inward, and appreciate that for a moment. I’ll even write it down, so that maybe I can remember to be that person for someone else, for my kids, and for the people around me. (And hopefully it makes for a solid blog post.)
I am thankful for my family. I was completely ungrateful for my upbringing as a child. I was tricked into believing that I had it rough, with divorced parents and apartment living. I often considered myself to be unlucky, and when I look back it at it now… Such a fool I was. Firstly I had parents who loved me unconditionally, and that is the first and foremost thing. My heart aches when I see others not as fortunate as me to have that in their life. I believe the world would be in a much better place if we all had two parents who loved their children as much as mine love me. But even beyond that, I had an extended family who loved and cherished me. From sleepovers to Pinochle, I had grandparents who spoiled me, and shared their wisdom daily. I had a gang of Aunts and Uncles ready to fight to death for me, and made it clear I was never without an ear to bend. Cousins who teased me (that’s important) and reminded me I wasn’t as cool as I thought (they were wrong, I totally am). And two siblings that through thick and thin, made it abundantly clear that we were a team and us Hays’ stick together no matter what. We are still so geographically close to each other and I believe that to be no mistake. We had familial bonds sewn into us that are tough to break. Simple things like camping trips to Ponderosa Christmas shopping to two weeks im Charleston Illinois, I have an awesome family that lit the path to Christ like living. And gave me (often the youngest of the bunch) a clear example of how to grow up. As I write now, I am realizing this incredibly high bar was set by my two titantically large (both literally and metaphorically) Grandpas. Lord help me to become the Christ following, Family loving, always engaged men that they were to me.
I am thankful for my education. My Highschool experience was simply fantastic. The opportunity to attend a Christian School (through the financial sacrifice of my family) is the most important thing that happened to me in my formative years. Not only did I form bonds that will last a lifetime through the people I met (Hello… best friends, teammates, and oh yeah Wife!). But I had teachers who DEEPLY cared about my upbringing as a Christian, a student, and all around person. I’m telling you there aren’t many people in the world who have done as much for your kids (or sacrificed as much) as Gary Lyvere, Laura Sweet, Darla Williams, Jim Connor, and Eric Vanderhoof (and many others). Going to school everyday with a group of other Christian friends lead by a Christian teacher instilled a love for fellowship. Even if it got a little heated during the predestination debate, (get it together Calvinists) that sort of discussion always brought about an iron sharpening iron situation. We were encouraged, we were uplifted, and sometimes we were dragged (sorry Mrs. Williams, for all that… and these typos…and the red X’s on my assignment board) to run the good race. I see a lot of my classmates still and am encouraged that despite almost all of us having that “college stage” we all sort of turned out alright. (Jury is still out on Will though.. I’M KIDDING PEOPLE I AM REQUIRED TO TEASE HIM.) Not to mention the opportunity to participate in sports.
Sports is getting it’s own section. Because I am really grateful for them and they are a part of my identity. Highschool basketball is pretty much the first thing that pops into my head when I think about Highschool. Well it probably goes like this:
1. The cute girl named Hannah I had a huge crush on.
2. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell (or endo-plasmic-ritculum with a very particular dance)
4. AAA Syllogisms and amo-amas-amat
So it’s definitely top 3. I lived and breathed basketball for a long time and the NUMEROUS stories I have from those times will live with me forever. I learned how to overcome adversity, acquired some mental toughness, discovered what it takes to be a winner, realized the value of practice and what being a teammate looks like, and most importantly, I had a DANG good Coach in Clarence Campbell who laid the very foundation of me becoming a Coach myself! Just look at what I found today on some dusty website from 2009.
You know what got the tears flowing here? This is on a website I know for a fact Coach inputted this himself 100%. He went home after travelling to SKEELS on a Tuesday night in January and got on his computer and typed this. While getting paid literal peanuts and raising a very fine family of his own. You don’t realize its sacrifice because coach loved the game and loved us so much it just felt natural. But man I am telling you I remember every second of that game. I remember every second of that season. I am moved to tears thinking about all that. Sure coach (and also in a lot of ways as well, my brother) molded me into the post scoring, passing threat, big man basketball player I am. But dude, that was the LEAST important thing he did for me during my time there. He hugged me when there was tears, he gave me tough love when I needed it, and of course… he taught me that sweet inbounds play where the inbounder hits the corner three. Man that play is MONEY.
And lastly, I am thankful to God. I sit here, at 30 years young, and I am so incredibly blessed. I have to laugh at my 20 year old self. I was completely lost. I was VERY AWARE that I was completely lost as well. I spent a lot of sleepless nights wondering just what the heck I was going to do. I felt rudderless, faithless, and completely adrift. But He had a plan, and He was working in me, even when I didn’t feel it. I somehow managed to marry the love of my life, despite my continual best efforts to screw that up. I got the opportunity to coach for 7 years at the school and program that meant so much to me (Thank You, Bob, and Jayme, for believing I could do it). I have a shot at a career I never prepared for (I have too many people to thank for that). And of course now… my ultimate blessings from God (Psalms 127:3) my kids. I have been blessed beyond measure every step of the way. Here’s to the first 30 just being the warm-up.
– God Bless