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J.J.'s Journal. . .April 5

Senior guard Jessika Stratton shares this final entry in this week's "J.J.'s Journal."

Senior guard Jessika Stratton shares this final entry in this week's "J.J.'s Journal."

April 5, 2004

It's a funny thing you know-sometimes a fifth grader has to put things into perspective. Andrew Bowles made a few profound statements in an e-mail he wrote the other day. He said, "I hope you had fun because that is the whole point of the game. You know, I love to play basketball, too. Basketball is a really fun sport isn't it?" Sometimes we all need a dose of reality. It is all too often that we only realize the simplicity of it all when things don't seem to fit our perfect plan. But have you ever imagined that these deemed "bad" events happen to be exactly what you need. Crazy I know, just stick with me on this one. (And yes Andrew, I did have so much fun!)

Trust me, I have questioned the whole situation. I sobbed, my heart ached, and my eyes were puffy for about a day. But you know what, I am human! If I didn't hurt, one might wonder if my heart was in it or even if I cared at all. But I cried because my heart, for that moment, felt torn into pieces. The funny thing is, it only took Him less than a day to stitch it a mend.

It's depressing. We all too often lose the joy of sport. It becomes a business, a game of money, statistics and accolades. Maybe that is what happens when your reach a higher level, I don't know. But why put so much pressure on young adults? Sure, pressure feeds the competitive fire and I, like my teammates, have a desire to win. But, the thing is we are still kids. Cluttered in our memory box you can find thoughts of Biddy Ball, a first black eye, putting on your first jersey, holding up that first trophy even though everyone got one, it didn't matter. You had fun remember? Gathering all your buddies to play a game in the lawn or in the driveway. Yeah you thought about winning, but it was fun. Why lose it? Do we just grow up and the joy simply fades? No, it just gets blanketed with the dust of awards, notoriety, or the games you "should have" won if you just did this or that better.

I am not going to let a measly seven seconds destroy the best 39 minutes and 53 seconds I have ever had on a basketball court. Yes, it didn't end the way I would hope or would have dreamed, but that last seven seconds does not determine my worth or my place in eternity. That's what it is all about isn't it? God had bigger plans than I thought. Even when I picked up a basketball for the first time, He knew exactly what I was getting into. He even knew that I could handle those specific seven seconds I would face years later. He has crafted each moment in preparation for the next, knowing full well that I would have to rely on Him just to make it. And I made it, even better than where I started.

I could have been the hero, made the game-winner or the big play. My name would have been all over the news, plastered on every paper, and most importantly we would have won the game. You dream about your one shining moment, where time stops and you have excelled beyond your wildest imagination. You find yourself under the dog pile grasping for air but too excited to notice. Trust me, I have dreamed of the very day. The funny thing is, my shining moment was nothing of the sort. I walked off a court in Norman, Okla., with questions, thoughts, and hurts, but when the tears subsided I saw there was more to life than basketball. My worth does not require that I make the game-winner or win a national championship. My worth is found in Christ alone and He is pleased when I play for him.

There was this poem that hung in our kitchen back in Colorado Springs. It was entitled "God's Hall of Fame." I read it a million times, over and over until I had it practically memorized. But that is all it was, memory, just something to say to help ease frustration when I didn't receive the award that I so desperately worked for or the championship I coveted. But, it makes perfect sense now; it is just too bad I forget all too often. Thank goodness for forgiveness. The last two verses go something like this:

"This crowd on earth they soon forget
The heroes of the past.
They cheer like mad until you fall
and that's how long you last.
But God, He never does forget, and in His Hall of Fame
by just believing in His Son
Inscribed you'll find your name.

I tell you, friend, I wouldn't trade
My name, however small,
That's written there beyond the stars
In that Celestial Hall,
For any famous name on earth,
Or glory that it shares;
I'd rather be an unknown here
And have my name up there."

Honestly, in two or three years you will forget who was in the Final Four or who made the Kodak All-America team, but you won't forget the people who loved you or made an impact on your life. I wish I could write down every name and thank every person that touched my life individually, but I don't think I would have enough room to write down every one! So, thank you to each and every person who cheered, who prayed, who hoped, who dreamed, who smiled, and who made a difference. I hope to share eternity with you!

- Jessika



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