Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: volleyball

Finding Answers in a Loss

At the end of last year, my daughter and I joined a volleyball league. Every Friday night until April, I am able to compete for an hour. While the initial reason for participating was to allow my daughter to sharpen her skills during the offseason, I find myself outclassed by much younger and athletic individuals. The ultimate purpose of any sport is to determine who is the best. Thus, when you lose more than you win, human nature begins to search for answers to explain why your team lost.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.,” Matthew 5:4.

In her 2017 song Can’t Live Without, Hollyn sings about someone who doesn’t know what they are chasing after. Using the context of a person driving in rush hour, sometimes you are so busy that lose sight of where you are actually going. Near the end of the lyrics, there is a transition which struck a nerve, ” Some people gotta lose it all to find out what they really want.” Progress, success and victory doesn’t require any need for reflection as positive momentum breeds confidence. Yet, embarrassment, failure and losing leads souls to ponder why.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me., 2 Corinthians 12:9

As a former professional athlete, I hate to lose, even if it’s playing a board game with my family at home. However, my desire to win takes joy away from competing. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states if you get rid of competition, you eliminate pride. Thus, if you take your focus off of winning and turn it toward savoring the opportunity, it doesn’t matter what the final outcome or scoreboard reads. Thanks to Hollyn’s song, I am now able to see the big picture, a father who is able to spend quality time with his daughter. While our team’s record may be mediocre, I have found an answer in a loss.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

Never Me… Always We

I have always appreciated creative minds.  Whether it’s an amusing advertisement, catchy commercial or funny bumper sticker, I enjoy unique themes.  While watching my daughter Lydia’s volleyball game, I sat behind the opposition’s varsity team as new T-shirts arrived.  On the back, a powerful message was displayed about what it means to be a great teammate, “Never Me Always We.”

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

This motto got me thinking about my own Christian faith.  Sadly, I find my own life resembling another T-Shirt design.  However, this one reads “Always Me, Occasionally Thee.”  Some where along the way I have discarded a servant’s heart for selfish reasons.  Unfortunately, I have forgotten one of the apostle Paul’s life’s verse, dying to self.  This is the way these students can proclaim “Never Me Always We.”

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me, Luke 9:23.

Before accepting individuals as disciples, Jesus had three expectations for each one to follow.  There were no exceptions to these standards, turning away many who were not willing to submit.  First, you needed to deny yourself, to become part of God’s team.  Second, join this crusade, to make fishers of men by saving souls.  Finally, commit to following God’s will wherever this may lead you.  If you are willing to submit to these requirements, you too can say with confidence Never Me God Always Thee.

by Jay Mankus

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter

The moment a student enters the work force something happens internally.  I’m not sure if its related to specific occupations, but mindsets begin to change.  As soon as individuals get comfortable, there’s a common practice to think ahead like “I’m going to do this or that.”  However, every once in a while you’re confronted with a situation that makes you realize tomorrow doesn’t matter.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,” James 4:13.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, it felt like a normal day.  I checked on my son before picking up my daughter from volleyball camp.  Upon my return, my son was in tears, insisting on wanting to go to the hospital.  Usually able to shake off pain, something inside of Daniel knew things weren’t right.  Twenty four hours later, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, James 4:14.

One of Jesus’ earthly brothers writes about one of his regrets in life.  For nearly thirty years, his big brother was the son of God, yet he never believed until after the resurrection.  Subsequently, James came to the conclusion that tomorrow doesn’t matter as long as today is present.  Therefore, despite the grief and uncertainty I am currently enduring, there is still plenty of time to grow, learn and be thankful before the sun sets.

by Jay Mankus

 

Those Were the Days

Over the weekend, I got off the Exit called Reflection.  Trying to avoid an eat, sleep, work and repeat the same cycle over again mentality, I pulled off to take a breather, camping in the mountains with my daughter.  Subsequently, I was able to slow down enough to take my spiritual pulse.  Laying back in the wilderness, thoughts began to flood my mind.

Healed from most of the scars from losing my teaching position to a new management group, God allowed me to see positive images from my past.  Similar to the theme song from All in the Family, the Lord brought to recall memories that made me think, those were the days.  Skipping my planning period to partake in a gym class with juniors and seniors, participating in school fundraisers like Donkey Basketball, Dodgeball, Golf Megaathon & Volleyball and developing an Ultimate Frisbee class will always hold a special place in my heart.

Although, you and I may not be exactly where we want to be currently, there’s still time to change course.  Perhaps you need to pull over, take a break or spend time reflecting.  You can start by reading Philippians 4:8; then apply this principle like a scene from Polyanna, playing the good game.  If this exercise can become a habit or daily routine, you may reach a point in time when you can honesty say, “those were the days!”

by Jay Mankus

King of the Court

Being honored as part of the home coming court would have been nice, but I didn’t even make the ballot.  Although becoming king of a basketball court was a dream, this white man’s got no game.  However, there was one place where I did shine for a season.  Believe it or not, I was king of the sand volleyball court.

During my final 2 summers of college, I teamed up with a wrestler from Cleveland State University, Eddy Z.  Whenever I wasn’t working at the country club or playing golf, I spent most of my free time on the old sand volleyball court at Geaugua Lake, now called Geaugua Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom.  Sure, I had other hobbies like singing karaoke at Rick’s Cafe, dancing at one of the night clubs on the Flats in downtown Cleveland and traveling, yet sand volleyball became my passion.

After taking a volleyball class at the University of Delaware, I was able to rebuild strength in my surgically repaired ankle and extend my vertical jump beyond 30 inches.  This knowledge was utilized as I played Wallyball in the winter, winning an intramural title on a coed team with Doug, Liz and Rosie; later losing to the men’s and women’s volleyball team in the finals of a co-ed March Madness style 32 team field.   Despite having several flaws in my techniques, my will to win overcame these deficiencies.

Eddy was quick like lightning, able to dig or get to any ball in the fenced in arena, developed an amazing skyball serve and set the ball as good as anyone I have ever known.  Meanwhile, I perfected a windmill serve, causing a fast downward motion, cupping my hand to create a knuckle ball affect.  In the end, Eddy and I probably lost 3 matches in 2 years, beating teams from Ohio State, Miami of Ohio and Kent State on a regular basis.  On 1 summer day, we played 8 straight hours, only stopping to drink water before dispatching the next team.  Though we shared the court with other season pass members and visitors to Geaugua Lake, whenever I entered the gate, I felt like I was king of the court.

Now, old, mostly bald and grey, all I have are the memories of the music, the wave pool crashing next door and the cheers from the crowd after another point won.  However, today, there is a new king.  While, not exactly new, yet new to those who choose to follow Him.  Despite the gifts or talents you have been given, without this king life is incomplete, John 10:10.  May you come to know the true King of the Court, awestruck by his glory and wonder, Psalm 19:1-6.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: