The question was part rhetorical and part inquisitive: “Why are you here?” I was in my second year of college and the exchanged happened because of my asking for an extension on a paper, due to a volleyball tournament on my schedule. I was a bit shocked by the bold retort of my English teacher. I expected her to understand that there was more to life than her class, be gracious and let me off the hook. She didn’t. She jolted me with an existential question that haunts so many of us on a daily basis.
The simple answer was “I’m here to go to college, learn and graduate.” But the bigger life answer is much more elusive. And while I still wrestle with God’s will for my life on a daily basis, I learned something that day that has served me well over the years. Even when I cannot connect all the dots from where I find myself to where I think I want to end up, I can, and should, understand and seize the opportunity that’s right before me. That’s all I have anyway. That’s all we all have.
I moved 6 thousand miles away from home to attend college in Nashville. I had to leave family, friends and even learn a new language to make it work. My parents had sacrificed resources and let go of the elder son so I could pursue what I wanted. And my most important concern was to play volleyball, even thought I was not that great of a ball player.
I have asked the same question of some of my younger friends whom I mentor,”why are you here?” Those who get “it” go on to seize the day and make the most of their current situation so that they’ll be ready for the next challenge and opportunity. They don’t know all the answers but they embrace the challenge and perform to their best. They grow, stretch and are given more.
Unfortunately some decide to “wait” for their ideal situation to present itself. And in doing so, waste opportunities that might never come back around. Call it maturity, grit, hunger, responsibility, passion, but whenever they figure out how to harness the motivation to roll up their sleeves and get the job done, they will open the doors to the life they have searching for.
Where are you today?