“Purpose in Pain”: Thoughts on Brian Dawkins

Everyone that knows me knows I’m a huge sports fan.  Among those is football.  I love playing football and I love watching football.  This weekend was the induction ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  And I was sitting in a hotel room in Arkansas and happened to turn the TV on and caught the majority of the event.  And at one point I tweeted that it felt like there was a church service going in in Canton given some of the speeches.

The one that really resonated with me with Brian Dawkins.  Dawkins was a defensive back who played mainly for the Philadelphia Eagles (also some time with the Denver Broncos).  His speech got into not just his career but more importantly his faith in Christ as well as the pain and struggles that he dealt with including dealing with depression.

What really stuck with me was when he said the following:

“See there’s a purpose for my pain.  There’s a purpose for my pain.”

Those words stuck with me.  They stuck with me when I immediately heard it.  And they have stuck with me these several days later.  These last five years or so I’ve dealt with pain.  Emotional pain, mental pain, spiritual pain.  It has been a season of my life that has been a tremendous struggle.  There have been more rough days than calm days in these last five years or so.

And so when I heard Dawkins’ speech and he was mentioning those words, they resonated with me.  I need to be reminded that there is a purpose for it.  I may not fully understand the reason for this pain, ultimately the purpose is for me to get closer to Jesus and to point people to Him.  If there’s anyone that knows purpose in pain, it’s Jesus.

If you have not seen his speech, take some time and watch.  It is worth it:

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Reflecting on “The Kid” Ken Griffey Jr. Getting Into The Hall of Fame

Today it was announced that Ken Griffey Jr. got into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Anyone that knows me knows I’m a huge Griffey fan.  I pretty much grew up with Griffey and watching him play.  When he debuted in 1989 I was 9 years old.  Back then he was known as “Ken Griffey Sr.’s son”.  He was the number 1 overall pick by the Seattle Mariners and there were huge expectations for him.  His rookie cards were elusive to collect, especially his Upper Deck rookie card.

griffeyRC

I became a Seattle Mariners fan because of Ken Griffey Jr.  I had no connections to Seattle (at that point) but I was a huge Griffey fan.  I collected his baseball cards.  I watched every game I could of him living in Tennessee.  I played his video game (which is my favorite baseball game on Super Nintendo) as a teenager for hours on end.

Ken Griffey Jr. SNES

The year that will always stick in my mind was the 1995 season when the Mariners stormed back and made the playoffs and beat the Yankees in the Divisional Round.  That season essentially saved baseball in Seattle and eventually led to the building of Safeco Field.

I was sad when he left Seattle and went to Cincinnati to lay with the Reds in 2000.  I understood even at the time because he wanted to be closer to his family and it was an opportunity to play on the team that his dad had played on during his heyday. I felt bad for him when he had the injuries when he did that cost him in my mind a shot at the home run record.  To this day, I still feel if he had stayed healthy he would’ve been the all time leader.

It was cool that when I got to see my first MLB game in St. Louis it was against the Reds in 2002. Unfortunately, Griffey wasn’t playing at the time but I saw his team.  I moved to Seattle in 2005 and lived there for three years and got to see the “House that Griffey Built” in Safeco Field but I never got to see Griffey play baseball in Seattle.  Then in 2007 while I was living in Seattle, I saw a video tribute that Griffey gave to Edgar Martinez when Martinez was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.  Everyone cheered for him.  Later in the season, the Reds came to Safeco and he routinely got standing ovations when came up to bat or in the field.  I wasn’t able to make it to the ballpark but I watched those games on TV.  It wasn’t until 2008 that I got to see Griffey live and in person.  By then, he was with the White Sox and I had moved to Kansas City and was in seminary.  It looked weird seeing him in a White Sox jersey but I was happy to see him playing in person after all those years.

It made me happy when he resigned with Seattle and spent his remaining time back with the Mariners.  I saved up my money and got a Mariners jersey with number 24 and Griffey on the back.  Every time the Mariners came into Kansas City to play the Royals I would wear my Griffey jersey and cheer the Mariners (the only time I didn’t cheer for the Royals).  I still remember the last series the Mariners played in KC in 2010 before Griffey retired.  I watched him take BP and I was right behind home plate down around field level.  He was smiling and having a good time and I felt like I was 15 again watching him perform.

It was inevitable that he would be elected into the Hall of Fame today but he got in.  All but three writers had him on their ballots (I don’t know why those three didn’t vote him into the hall).  To me, he will always be my favorite baseball player.  Congrats to you Ken Griffey Jr. and your achievement today.  You were a hall of famer in my book for a long time and now you’re officially getting that recognition.

Reflecting on the Ultimate Warrior

I am a pro wrestling fan.  I have been since I was a kid.  I am one today.  Granted there have been some seasons where I didn’t follow as much but I enjoy watching it, especially old matches.  Being a child from the 1980s, I was a Hulkamaniac.  I rooted for Hulk Hogan big time.  But, in the late 80s/early 90s there was another wrestler that I was a huge fan of and his name was the Ultimate Warrior.

Ultimate Warrior was like a comic book character come to life.  His face was painted and he had this huge rocking theme music and run down to the ring and shake the ropes and beat his opponent in like no time.  I thought he was awesome.  The first ever wrestling event I went to as a kid, he was on the card.  I don’t remember much but the energy I do remember.

I always remember the main event match of Wrestlemania VI between WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan verses WWF Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior in the “Ultimate Challenge” title for title match.  I remember as soon as that pay per view came out on VHS I rented it from the local video store and would watch that over and over.  And seeing Ultimate Warrior win that match was such a cool sight that I wished I was in Toronto to see it in person.

As I was checking twitter tonight, I saw it come across that he had passed away.  I was shocked.  For those that don’t know, he was just this past weekend inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and appeared at Wrestlemania XXX.  He was just on Monday Night Raw last night.  Those three events seemed like an impossible thing for years.  The Warrior had a rough relationship at times with the owner of the WWE Vince McMahon and left the company several times in the early to mid 90s and hadn’t been with the company since 1996.  The relationship was so bad that the WWE put out a DVD in 2005 called “The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” that was basically a way to say a bunch of bad stuff about the career of the Ultimate Warrior.  Both sides were angry at each other for years upon years.

Then last year, the Ultimate Warrior did a commercial promoting the latest WWE video game WWE 2K14.  He was going to be a character in the game.  Then in January, it was announced that he was going to be a part of the 2014 class of the WWE Hall of Fame and the headlining member on top of that.  It was really cool to hear that things had patched up.  Then just a week ago, the WWE released a DVD/Blu-Ray set called “Ultimate Warrior:  The Ultimate Collection” where Ultimate Warrior spoke on his life and career in wrestling and was a balance to the previous DVD release.  Then of course was this past weekend and celebrating the career of the Ultimate Warrior.

It is sad to hear of his passing.  He left a wife and two daughters.  As I think about his life, one thing that comes to mind right now is the reconciliation that took place between him and Vince McMahon.  It was good that the both of them reconciled and worked things out.  It’s a testament to all of us that it should be something we all could take notice of and do our best to reconcile those relationships where we’ve been hurt or where we’ve hurt others.

I’ll remember the Ultimate Warrior and I’ll still remember that 10 year old version of me that shakes those imaginary ropes and slams those imaginary opponents.  And I hope that the man Jim Hellwig had a true and personal relationship with the greatest warrior, Jesus Christ.