Wandering through the sea of purple and activity booths, it was a little overwhelming seeing all the opportunities I could involve myself into as a whopping three-day old college student! Walked past the usual clubs and intramural sport booths. Nothing was clicking…nothing just calling, “Hey Anthony this is where you are needed!”
I was turning to leave the activity fair and a young lady was yelling past the crowd, “Hey you! Can you please stop!” She looked fairly out of breath and the only thing she could get out next was, “You’re perfect!”
Next came a string of reasons to join the K-State Rowing Club and become a coxswain. I was a little embarrassed to admit to her that I had no idea what she was talking about. Finally, she said, “Just come to practice today at the Boat House around 4:30.”
She had piqued my interest. What was rowing? It was early afternoon by that point. I raced back to my dorm room and found their Facebook page. On the very first post was the declaration of need: “WE ARE DESPERATE FOR ANYONE 5 FOOT 2 INCHES AND WEIGHING LESS THAN 120 LBS!”
Ummm…that’s me! I’m 5’2″ and I’m a scrawny thing!! Found directions to the Boat House and I didn’t look back. Standing there on the edge of the dock, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how being apart of this rowing family would change my life. Watching the first boat shells hit the water I was taken back to the Doctor’s office where my stringy 12 year-old little legs dangled precariously off the edge of the examination table.
Occasionally in life we are asked, what would you tell your younger self? If I could have gone back to my 12 year old self that day I’d had said, “God doesn’t make mistakes.”
It had been a weird two year journey up to that point. I hadn’t really noticed that my brothers were quickly surpassing me in height. Remember the movies where the kids race and have their parents mark their height in pencil on a wood frame? We were a normal family in that regards. I remember racing to the spot monthly…closing my eyes and stretching up nice and tall. Occasionally, sneakily, even standing on tippy toes to which my mother would say smiling, “No cheating…flat on your feet.” Each month I’d turn around disappointed.
My brothers were bean sprouts each month their heights kept climbing. Mine…let’s just say it was foretold by my Mother’s favorite story she would tell every gal I brought home. When I was born, I was so small the doctors declared, “Well he sure isn’t going to be an NFL player, but he’ll make one hell of a jockey.” (I’ve strongly contended that my Mother has taken complete liberty in fabricating this story purely for motherly embarrassment motives.)
My parents could tell this was bothering me. They were also concerned that maybe I was experiencing a health problem. So to the doctors we went. When he came in with the prognosis, it was pretty straightforward.
“Hate to say this, but he’s pretty well done growing. Two inches max based on the space in his growth plates. I am happy to share we do have options that we could do that would help get him to the average height of his peers.”
He went on to describe the various options. The one he recommended was growth hormones. To this day I’m glad my parents allowed me the ability to make this very adult decision. By the time I weighed the pros and cons…I felt I was better off keeping what I had versus facing the slim chance of having complications later on.
Yet, I made this decision not based on any love I had of who I was. No, it was completely rooted in the fear of losing what little I had. My whole decision framework was based on a negative view of who I was.
This would compound and grow. By my 8th grade year I hated the fact I would never be good at sports. I hated that everyone would ask, “Did you drink coffee when you were younger?” Not asking out of concern, but to put me in my place. I didn’t know what it was called at the time, but I remember what it felt like. A hole…a big gaping hole, I was no one, I was nothing. Okay, maybe the occasional armrest…at any rate it hurt.
The worst came though when a young girl I had dated for a few months broke up with me, her reason, “Honestly, you’re a great guy. I just really wish you were two inches taller, I just can’t see myself with someone my own height.” That comment cut so deep…I look back and know now she didn’t realize how much it hurt me. I also realize now that she was shallow in her relationships and that God was protecting me.
All this culminated in making choices that almost destroyed my life. All because I was blind to the blessings that God had provided and focused on what I lacked.
Rowing was God’s way of waking me up. Through rowing I forged friendships that I still have today. Through rowing I gained a love and knowledge of why God made me the way I am. I suddenly realized that my height was disarming…welcoming. I wasn’t big and intimidating, people who felt out of place in a room I made it the habit to befriend them.
I realized that I could squeeze through a sewer drain retrieving a soccer ball that would have been lost forever. I realized that I can get crazy great deals at any clothing store in the kids section!! I realized that I could relate and comfort future students who were struggling with self-worth and need to hear God Doesn’t Make Mistakes!
We cannot allow others or society determine our worth. Our worth has no measure that this world is capable of quantifying! So let’s stop judging the worth of others…let’s stop judging the worth of ourselves. God Doesn’t Make Mistakes…his purpose for our lives is simple…LOVE. Love without abandon, Love without conditions, Love always.
This post was inspired by the message shared by my #CompelledTribe friend, peer, and #EduHero, Allyson Apsey. Here is a link to her post: https://allysonapsey.com/2018/11/24/if-you-knew/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
Allyson’s message of #IfYouKnewEDU speaks of the students, parents, and peers who are hurting all around us from sometimes deep scars. We don’t always show it, but it is there. It is real and it is sometimes very raw. Being open and vulnerable is hard. Let us have deep grace and compassion for all those we meet on our journey; and if nothing else just love.
Just, remember…please, always remember: God Doesn’t Make Mistakes!