Do you have a tough time making decisions?
Probably there are few people, aside from some real sports junkies, who would remember the name Drew Henson. As a teenager, he was considered a phenomenon being named by both the national newspaper USA Today and the sports drink Gatorade in their respective awards ceremonies as “High School Player of the Year.”
The thing was, he didn’t just excel in one sport, but two (and wasn’t too shabby in a third one either). In football he posted some impressive stats like completing 400 passes for 5,662 yards, 52 touch downs, 50 tackles, and 5 interceptions. Then in the spring he was an all-star on the baseball field, posting among other impressive numbers a record 70 home runs in a season. Henson had recruiters from colleges and professional sports coming at him from all directions. So senior year, not only did he have to decide whether he wanted to go into college or immediately enter the pros, but after that decision what school or what team? Oh, yeah and which sport?
For a while it seemed he was going to go to Florida State. Then he settled on the University of Michigan where he was the backup quarterback to a guy by the name of Tom Brady. After Brady graduated, Henson was the starting quarterback and had a great season... but the thoughts of baseball never went away. He left Michigan football after becoming a draft pick for the New York Yankees’ making $2 million, for which he is recorded in the majors as making one hit.
Maybe baseball just wasn’t his thing, so Henson returned to football getting his big shot on one of the biggest football days of the year playing for one of the most popular teams. Drew suited up for the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day 2004 only to be pulled out of the game for (a much older, but seasoned veteran) Vinny Testaverde after an abysmal first half, going 4-12 for 31 yards. Soon after he retired from professional sports altogether.
Why was he such a “bust?” While some speculated to incredible lengths about the cause for his failure (and if you do a Google search, you’ll find a wide range of opinions from every sports writer) I wonder if it was that he never fully committed to one sport over the other. Did he just keep revisiting in the back of his mind his other options? Maybe after having a bad practice, or a poor performance in a game rather than pushing himself to excel, to improve he would start thinking about the other sport that he could have been playing, idealizing how much better it would be, dreaming that instead of dealing with the adversity he was facing, he would be a superstar had he only went in the other direction.
As Christians from a pretty young age we’ve learned that throughout our lives we’re confronted with choices between something “good” and something “evil.” For all of us who have struggled and continue to struggle with sin in our lives, we know how hard those choices can be. Intellectually we know that one thing is right and the other is wrong, but temptations can be effective in us ignoring what we know is the right thing to do. People in college know they aren’t supposed to drink alcohol when they are underage, and that they have to keep up with their studies– yet stop by a college campus on a Saturday or Sunday morning or at the end of the semester during finals time for plenty of examples on people struggling to make good decisions in both of these areas.
As important as learning and knowing the difference between good and evil is, what has struck me being a priest on a college campus as something that can become even more challenging for young adults is trying to make a decision between two goods. Which perhaps shouldn’t be so surprising. For most of your lives, your parents have made choices for you – living in one place rather than another; what high school you attended; who your doctor was going to be. Sure you might have had some input in those decisions, but ultimately, Mom and Dad made the final decision. Perhaps you encountered (or still are dealing with) some of the difficulties in making these choices between two (or even more) goods: What college should I attend?” “Should I major in History or Biology?”
Unfortunately our culture hasn’t helped much in this area either. Promising that “you can have it all,” it’s no wonder so many are worried to make a choice or a decision for fear that you’re going to miss something even better. Maybe that’s why for almost every Facebook event, the largest group is the “Not Yet Replied” group - we’re afraid to commit even to a barbeque in case something even better, more exciting should pop up in the time between I RSVP’d and the actual event. Maybe we’re all a little bit like Drew Henson at times.
That’s where something called discernment comes in. Often times people hear that and immediately think of vocation questions (“Am I called to be a priest or a religious?”) While that is one question that people definitely need to discern - the practice of discernment is a lot broader.
When we discern - we stop asking, “what do I want to do” and instead start to attune our minds, hearts, and souls to the question “Lord, what do you want me to do?” We lay our options, our gifts, our blessings and start asking Him for His direction. It’s interesting how many students I’ll ask “when deciding which college you went to, did you pray about what school you should attend?” how few never even thought about it. Important factors like did they have the classes I was interested in taking (even though some statistic says 80% of Freshmen will change their majors...) How much does it cost; Do they have the sports I want to play in, do I like the campus? are usually all asked - but few ever even thought to ask Does God want me to go here? Yet if we truly believe He created us, wants us to have a fulfilling and abundant life that will draw us closer to Him, maximizing all the gifts and talents He has given us, is it that much of a stretch to think He might have been able to guide us in making a decision about where I was going to spend four of the most important years of my life?
Wherever you find yourself right now, the thing is that Jesus Christ loves us so much, desires to have such a personal, one-on-one relationship with us that He should be a part of all our decisions. The question is, are we welcoming Him in to be a part of the discussion?
(In my next column, I’ll try to give some tips on how to do this.)
You Might Also Like:
Jan 31, 2013
Do you have a tough time making decisions?
Please ensure that popups are allowed in your browser so that we may verify your email address.
Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
For FOCUS, this means meeting college students across the nation where they are and challenging them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through personal relationships and friendship, we offer college students the true peace and fulfillment they seek in the good news of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic faith, inviting them to answer His calling in their lives.
We want the FOCUS blog to be a place where our audience contributes to the conversation. We‚ve created this form as a way to reach out and hear from you. You can use the form below to do three things: 1.) Submit a topic that you would like to see discussed by our featured bloggers. 2.) Submit an idea you have about writing a blog post for the FOCUS blog. 3.) Submit a full blog post for us to consider posting on the FOCUS blog. Thank you for your time and effort!