Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Providing Context

During the off-season, I don't have a whole bunch of match reports or match previews to post. So I think that I want to do something else. I want to have articles on the site, mostly written by the Bethany Christian players- you. Figured we would look at all sorts of topics, but I thought I'd start the trend...

Providing Context

I was watching the Today Show this morning, and one segment was dedicated to discussing the pursuit of happiness. The producers had found a psychologist, a rabbi, and a motivational speaker to talk with Matt Lauer about what makes people happy and provides meaning to their lives. The debate was spurred by the fact that many Americans are noting that they are more depressed than ever. I was surprised to find myself agreeing with them on two of the three aspects that they named as "keys to happiness."

The first aspect that they mentioned was the quality of our relationships. Ponder what is happening to relationships in the U.S. All sorts of technological advances are making it easier to live on your own, to remove yourself from real relationships.

In the ancient Greek world, a word of contempt arose that has stuck around (albeit in a bit of a changed form and meaning). The word is idios, which you might recognize looks a lot like our modern word idiot. The Greek word simply meant a "private person" or "one who is on one's own." The reason this was an insult was also simple, if you are all to your own or too much of a private person, you are often too focused on your own affairs to see the big picture of life. When you become too self-focused, you begin to lose meaning in life. When you lose interest in relationships, you are an idiot.

The second aspect discussed on The Today Show was that of purpose. People tend to find meaning in life when they are pursuing some sort of purpose, whatever that may be. Sometimes there is disappointment in the realization of purpose, but what we often find is that in the pursuit of a goal there is fulfillment.

Why do I mention all of this on a high school tennis website? Because these two things are two of the main reasons that I coach. Tennis, Bethany Christian tennis, provides these contexts for me. The team, my little brothers (and not in a derogatory way), relationships that I value very highly. Relationships that prevent me from hiding out in my home everyday after school and building my own world of Guitar Hero and Worldwide Soccer Manager. Relationships that allow people like Jordan Kauffman to say, "You're fat," and me not get mad at him. Relationships that allow me to realize that Jordan's right, and that have the ability to motivate me to change. It's these relationships that prevent me from being a fat, lazy, unmotivated idiot.

And purpose. Of course, we are pursuing a goal together. We want to win a Sectional championship. But the journey so far has been amazing. Memories abound, and good memories. Remember when we came back being pounded 5-0 by Fairfield to beat them in the first round of Sectionals this year? Remember when we traveled to Warsaw and got to see one of the state's best teams? Remember when our JV beat Concord? Remember Russell singing sexy songs in the back of the bus? Remember when there was almost a tornado at our Fremont match, and we escaped to go to Pizza King and eat breadsticks? This goodness abounds throughout the journey. It makes the goal sweeter when realized, and makes the work that it takes to get there easier to go through.

What's even better is that at Bethany, we get to go deeper together. There is a certain limit to how close a high school team can get, to how moving the purpose of winning a Sectional can be, but those limits are pushed out when we are also striving to be disciples of Christ. There is a whole new depth, a whole new area of transformation that is opened up in this. Nothing warms my heart more than watching teammates become Christ to one another and the rest of the school. From giving rides, to giving lessons, to offering prayers, we've a real chance to pursue Jesus together. And there is a lot of goodness on that journey as well.

So that's why I coach, because tennis provides the setting for part of my journey, a context for my relationships. So I continue to wish your journey well, and will right beside when your journey turns through tennis.

--- Coach Matt

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