My husband, some hotshot. Saul got to speak the other night at the Athens High School Senior Athletic Banquet. The speech itself was good, but I got the benefit of hearing all of the rough drafts. Most of them were takes off of Chris Farley’s Saturday Night Live character who talks about living in a van down by the river. Let’s just say, Saul (and the audience in attendance last night) is lucky to have me. Only a wife can tell her husband that he absolutely, positively cannot say certain things in public to a group of high schoolers.
As Saul was preparing for the speech, we began reminiscing about our high school careers. Saul was one of Reedsburg, Wisconsin’s star football and basketball players. A starter in everything he did and Homecoming King to boot, it was a pretty incredible way to saunter through high school.
Two hours away, at about the same time, I was onstage singing my little heart out in the leading role as the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I still have the entire soundtrack memorized. It was a highlight of my high school career.
I remember a teacher proudly saying to my father and me after one of the shows, “Nicole, this is going to be the greatest experience of your entire life!” My dad leaned close to my ear and whispered, “I sure hope not.” He knew I couldn’t live my life looking in the rear-view mirror.
That stroll down memory lane became the crux of Saul’s speech to this athletic class of 2016: Don’t let whatever you’ve accomplished in the last four years be the biggest thing you’ve ever done.
I’m sure you’ve done some pretty great things in your past, had some banner moments, made yourself and a few other people awfully proud. As adults, it can feel like we’ve lost our momentum, that what we do doesn’t really matter all that much, because instead of having people constantly cheering for us, we’re all just busy doing life. The shining moments are smaller, more private, but let me assure you, they are also infinitely more powerful.
Because now, instead of making the game-winning shot or bowing for a standing ovation, we are shaping the lives of the people around us. Instead of sucking in the encouragement of others, we are doling it out. If we’re doing our jobs as productive members of society and God’s own children, we are handing out kindness like candy, helping others feel confident enough to try something new and perhaps even healing old wounds.
We each have the opportunity today to breathe life into another person. Sadly, we don’t know for certain what that person is going through, so if we don’t do it, if we don’t slow down and build someone else up, it’s possible no one will. That makes us invaluable– at any age, at any stage, in our lives.
Your best moment isn’t behind you. It’s right in front of you. It’s today.