A “Season of Life” man’s meaning in life

Just a little background as I read through chapters one through four. This is a book about the true life of Joe Ehrman as written by Jeffrey Marx. Jeffrey entered Joe’s life as a young boy entering 7th grade when he went to a summer tennis camp and found himself sidelined and struck by the great opportunity to hang out with the what was then known as the Baltimore Colts that were having summer practices at the same college Jeffrey was going to camp at. Jeffrey begins talking about the background of Joe Ehrman, a Goliath of a man that was an all american stand out defensive lineman playing for the Colts at the time as well as ┬áthe relationship Jeffrey builds with Joe and the Colts football team soon being hired as the team ball boy later on when he turned 16.

I begin at the parts in which Jeffrey talks about Joe and this standout who was the “life of the party” full of laughs, jokes, drinking, and living life to it’s fullest. He was a man that would purchase a house for it’s size with the thought of team parties in mind as the deciding factor. Joe is then caught by suprize as his far younger brother Billy in which Joe and Billy were very close by any definitions of closeness of siblings. They had plans that Billy would become a professional football player like his brother and was on his way to doing that and basically was raised by Joe since his father was gone much of the time with the line of work he was in.

A quote is talked about that Joe really liked that went like this:

“There is a destiny that makes us brothers

None goes his way along

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own.”

This is important as it ties directly into the experience that Joe and his family experiences with Billy. Billy one day walking off the field notices a large number of dark deep bruises all over his body but knowing that he did not hit or go hard was very confused. This begins Joe’s spiritual path because many of us have that experience that causes us to ask and question. You see, Billy was diagnosed with a rare cancer in which his bone marrow was not producing enough blood cells.

Joe then spends the remaining limited time of Billy’s life by his side, sleeping on the couch, making him laugh even if it was for a few seconds forgetting he was sick, to holding him tight as Billy who always looks up to Joe as his protector, crying and pegging him to, “don’t let me die, please don’t let me die.” I remember the years I sat watching my mother fight day in and day out, be in pain, and finally pass away and it still hurts. I could only imagine that someone so close as Joe and Billy having to watch his brother pass away and not being able to do anything. This big time football player with all the money in the world, popularity, and resources can do nothing but be with Billy as he withers away. I myself had the time to realize this that I would be with my mother, I couldn’t save her but I could be with her as she was with me on the day I was born, and I was. I was there they day she took her last breath in the room supported by my wife and supporting my father.

My wife believes that this was a very important moment in my life and I won’t deny it. Imagine Joe, a man who by all means raised his little brother and were closer than “normal” siblings going through this. In fact, Joe took Billy at the end to visit the team, his other family and sit in a whirlpool to help take away some pain as friends said their good byes.

This is the moment as Joe is filled with so much hurt and sadness begins to question. You see, Joe much like myself and many others, grew up a good home but not a home that was filled with God. There was never much talk about God, faith, and religion so Joe found something that gave him fulfillment and a sense of “salvation” which was football and all his success that came with it. He didn’t need God during those times even though I believe God was there for him even if Joe didn’t know it or want it. I relate and reflect on this because, my home was a good home. Two parents, a dog, food on the table, and a roof over my head. What more could I want, yet I know realize that I wanted more. I found football which I was successful at and received recognition for by many in school. At that time, why did I need God. In reality, I needed God more than I would even understand. Joe questions after Billy’s death:

  • How can a God that loves us allow this to happen?
  • How can there be so much suffering in the world?
  • What is the purpose to life?
  • Where does real meaning and purpose come from?

Sound familiar? we all reach this point at some time and some degree. But as I have learned that it is alright to question, we may never know the reasoning until we are face to face with our Lord, but it is alright to question. It is more important to trust and that trust comes with time and allowing the Lord to work in us in many different ways.

You see, soon Joe came across some people that were starting what is known as the Ronald McDonald houses at hospitals for families in which want to be close to their loved ones. Joe’s asks in a joking way, “where the hell where you when Billy was here?” Joe then began working with these people to raise funds and get permits and soon opened the first house in Baltimore at his brothers hospital with more in the works. Joe discovered something, he put meaning to the quote, “all that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.” We must understand that Jesus wants us to serve others. Jesus is the ultimate example of a servant and wants all of us to help others and know that if we help others we are helping Him and if we deny others we are denying Him.

It is not about us is it when we look at the big picture is it? ┬áThe last thing before I close is that as Joe begins his journey spiritually and realizing that football is a platform to help others. Yes, he was successful at it, but more opportunities are being opened to help others even though he could not help save his brothers life. The book talks about Joe’s discovery of a little author known as Victor Frankl. I tell you what, if you want to read a great author and a great story then read the book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. I have read the same things that Joe is talking about that, the question that Joe or all of us ask at some time, what is the purpose to life? comes with many answers and he is on his path to discovering his. Victor Frankl was a Nazi Camp survivor and when he survived, he created something called logo therapy. Based on the question of why did almost all around him die or “give up” when he survived? The fact was that no matter what the Nazi’s did, they could not take away one thing from him. They could even take his life, but they could not take the fact that he controlled how he perceived his situation. Victor concluded that there are two main avenues in which one arrives to meaning:

  1. Creating a work or doing a deed
  2. Even the helpless victim of a helpless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow above himself, and by so changing himself.

Joe decided to took at the loss of his brother as a motivating factor to help others. To use what God blessed him with to help others in ways he knows can benefit them. It is true you know, we can not control our situation or circumstances but we can control how we perceive and respond to them. What is the old saying? “you are ten percent what happens, and ninety percent how you respond.” Think about it, take something bad in your life, it does not have to be a tragic situation but something negative and reflect on it. What came out of it? how did you grow? what did you learn? how did you respond?

I think about the past several years. For example, the loss of my mother was hard and it still hurts, but, it did strengthen my relationship with my father in certain ways. It helped me open up and discover a faith in God that has helped my and my family. The loss of my job and hearing more “no’s” or “not the right fit” more than I can count on my fingers and toes was so hurtful I broke down, got depressed, hurt my family, and yes was even taken to the hospital but law enforcement. I was embarrassed, but know I look at it, what my family and I did after that because I was forced to look up and rely on God, I am in a situation I would never have dreamed and helping others more than dreamed.

If nothing else, please take away from this reading and reflection that, you control how you perceive negative things. You are not defined by your circumstance, you are defined by how you respond to those circumstances. Circumstances come and go, some bad and some good, but in the end choose to give in to God during those times and take the mindset that you are going to grow and learn from it because you will still go on. You will still go on and perhaps help somebody one day in the same circumstances. Thank you so much and hope to read your comments and join me next time in my next reflection of a, “Season of Life.

A “Season of Life” Introduction

I was recently sitting reading through some leadership material and began thinking about a quote that was used. The quote by John C. Maxwell stated, “reading without reflecting is like chewing without swallowing.” Although this is a simple visual of a thought or philosophy, If I dig farther into it and realize that, God made us beings unlike other animals, and by unlike, I mean that we have a very distinct ability, need, and want for growth. We as people were given a inner search and desire to grow mentally, emotionally, and yes spiritually. So, I think about how often I and perhaps many others, spend time reading an article in a magazine, reading a good book, or even scrolling hours through Facebook trying to get a sense of what the world is doing around us as we sit in the world at that moment as it races by.

So what do we do with all this information and knowledge at our fingertips? I watch my wife go through the traditional process of reading, writing, testing, and much more reflecting as she works her way towards a masters degree. I sometimes think about all the reflecting I did during my masters program and how much I absolutely learned and grew when I got to “chew” on the information with others and then reflect on how it impacted me, “chewing” it and the “nutrients” helping me grow. So many of times, we sit and watch television, play games, and other things and there is such a great opportunity to grow and learn to benefit us and more importantly benefit others with this limited time we are given on Earth. You might know, Jesus reflected a lot and tried to share that information to others so they could grow and see things in a new way, and in return, their actions could reflect their new way of thinking and seeing things. There were people (pharisees) that believed they truly reflected on the bible so much that they missed the lessons and opportunities that Jesus and His disciples gave them to learn and grow. Not much has changed no matter what the material is about.

I am dedicating myself to a reflecting on a book that I have recently been thinking about as I get older and experience and see things in new ways. I used to coach with a great man that taught me a lot. Yes, he taught me a lot about the X’s and O’s of football and strategy, which I took with me as I coached my players in many sports. Thinking about it now, wins and losses come at a dime a dozen and many times if not all the time, we don’t even remember the scores, the records, or statistics. We do remember the process and journey we went through and the experiences that we take off of the playing field that molded us into the human beings we are today. What do people love talking about when they see old friends or even new friends? those experiences and how it impacted us. One thing that he started using that went along with saying at practice for a while and then began wondering? why does he say this? what is the purpose? He would end a practice and instead of the “word” always given, he would state, “what is my job?” and then the team would repeat chorally, “love us”. He then would state, “what is your job?” as the team would reply, “love each other.” Something so simple could be a ritual or practice and not much more than that. But as I discovered, it was a believe, a passion, an ultimate philosophy that yes he was developing a winning team and program in the small picture, but beyond that, he was developing young men that one day would move on to be fathers, contributors to society, instruments of faith, and much more. He was helping them learn and apply things that would last beyond that season, “a season of life.”

I then took this ideas and read a book that I believe that he got this idea from called a “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx. I read this book once about five or six years ago and took so much away from it. As I sit and think about it, I decided to read it again to reflect or “chew” on it more as I have experienced so much more that I believe will help me understand the book in a deeper level. I don’t want to simply read it again though, I want to walk through it, stop, and reflect on it. So my goal is to read through several chapters and then post on something about the book that hits me hard that I can rejuvenate on. A new discovery that I want to bring back into my home and more so my passion as an educator and administrator, which I view as a bigger coaching opportunity to help more kids than just on a football team. But please don’t misunderstand me, no matter if it is one kid or a hundred, if you have changed a life for the better, you are doing a great thing in this world.

I hope you follow along and join me on this journey. If you have read the book, please discuss with me and comment as that is what true learning is. If you have not, then perhaps read it or just join me anyways because many of the things I will talk about are from the book, but relate to life and we are all part of that season. I might post daily, I might post weekly, there is no set plan but I ask if you are reading this, you can help me by messaging me and letting me know that it has been a while and that I am not meeting my goal with this step. We all need help at times and we should be able to ask when needed. Thank you so much, my next post will be the first reflection from the reading so please stay tuned.