Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dear Drew,

Dear Drew,

It was going to be the largest crowd I'd ever spoken to at that point in my life. By far.

I just couldn't get what I wanted to say clear in my mind as I tried to prepare for  the talk I'd been invited to give. I slept very little the night before.

When I walked up to the podium, the lights in the auditorium went out and spot lights shined in my eyes. I could not see the audience and I could not read my notes.

I did the standard "thank you's." For the first 4 or 5 minutes I was funny and even edgy. People laughed.

And then I lost my way. I rambled. I wasn't on point. I wasn't clear. I finished my talk as soon as I could without the shortness of my talk being even more embarrassing than the talk itself. I took myself out of the game.

When it was over I felt as if I had let down the people who'd invited me to speak. I felt as if I never wanted to speak in public again.

People said the polite things they always say to speakers. I didn't sense much conviction behind their comments.

All I wanted was to get out of the auditorium, drive home, and hide.

Mike Wise has written a very poignant story about how you seemed to be feeling after last night's game. It  brought all those old feelings back from when I blew it big time doing what I do.

After 10 years, speaking at Foundry Church is like talking to old friends. But when I am preparing to speak at other places, I always think about that early experience and pray: "Dear God, don't let it happen again."

There is a verse of Scripture from the writings of the Apostle Paul that has strangely moved me for the past 25 years. Paul was writing about his "thorn in the flesh," whatever that was. It was something that made him weak.

Paul says that he prayed three times that the "thorn" would be removed from him. But, he says, the Lord answered: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."

Then Paul adds these words: "Whenever I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:8-11)

I've wished that I could just wipe that early public embarrassment out of my memory. But it won't go away.

I suspect it has made me better at what I do ... less concerned about performing and more concerned about getting a message across. Less concerned about what people think about me as a speaker and more concerned about whether I've done right by the message I've been given to get across.

I know this is impossible to hear right now, but these kinds of experiences can make us better people and better players in whatever our "game" in life is.

I believe that.

So, Drew, be gentle with yourself. Let the people who love you the most take care of you for a while. Remember that you are a great pitcher and a good guy.

We love you.

Grace and peace,


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