“There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.”
Helpless – Neil Young
We all have a place. Somewhere that changed us, someplace that we wouldn’t be the same without. For me, that place wasn’t in North Ontario. Instead it is in central Oklahoma, for me that place is Norman, OK.
To start, I’m about two weeks into my first full time job at Dunham+Company in Plano. This job is something that I didn’t even know existed a few weeks ago, but now I have committed my foreseeable future to it. I am learning a lot everyday and I am excited for what the future holds. For many, this will seem strange. All I have talked about since eighth grade was of my desire to work in sports media. Every job I have taken besides Pine Cove has in some way reflected this desire. I’ve met some great people along the way and had some amazing experiences. Accepting this job at Dunham+Company doesn’t seem to help further this dream. In some ways that’s true. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. You see, I’ve learned from experience that my idea of a dream isn’t always what God’s plans are.
Growing up, all I ever wanted to do was go to the University of Texas. My mom went there, and being a huge sports fan I latched on to that as early as I can remember. There were periods in my life where all I wore was Longhorn attire. I owned every possible article of clothing besides socks and underwear in burnt orange. I even had a sweet Longhorn Fossil watch. As I got further into high school, reality began to dawn on me. UT was still using their Top 10% admittance rule and I went to a high school with a graduating class of 52. To get in automatically I needed to be in the top 5 students of my highly competitive high school. My math and science grades were never going to allow me to do that. Despite my good test scores and my extracurricular activities, I knew deep down that I was never going to get in. This led me to begin exploring other opportunities. I only applied to four schools: UT, Baylor, TCU, and perhaps surprisingly, the University of Oklahoma.
OU was always my second choice. They had a brand new journalism building, a beautiful campus, and they were just about as far away as Austin. They also had top flight sports, especially big time college football. All of these were part of my criteria for a school. UT had always been my dream, but practicality also came into play. My grandfather had attended OU, so I never had a deeply seated hate for the Sooners unlike most UT fans. OU, Baylor, and TCU accepted me quickly. They also all three offered me partial scholarships. I knew that I wanted to go to OU the most, but I also had to wait on UT. There was always a small chance that my childhood dream would come true. Deep down, I knew that OU was the best option for me personally, but I just couldn’t let the dream of UT go. Luckily, God made it abundantly clear where I should be. I was “capped” at UT, meaning I could go to a UT system school for a year before possibly attending UT Austin. I had already decided that I didn’t have any desire to do that.
The decision was made immediately after reading the letter from UT, I was going to be a Sooner. My childhood dream was gone, replaced by something greater than I could have possibly imagined. The city of Norman itself isn’t spectacular, but it’s great. However, it’s the people that attend the school there that made it great for me. It would be hard to overstate the importance of Norman in my life, like Mr. Young says, “all my changes were there”.
I made tons of great friends, was a part of an incredible fraternity, Brothers Under Christ, was able to be on the football field during the pregame festivities*, found a great church, and learned how to be a man of God. Oh yeah, I also went to school there. I was able to learn from incredible professors. I was fortunate enough to be a part of Dr. J. Rufus Fears’ last two semesters of teaching before he tragically passed away last Fall. Dr. Fears was the crown jewel of OU’s faculty, and maybe the crown jewel of any faculty in the world. The impact he had on students is immeasurable, and the impact he had on me as a person will affect me for the rest of my life. There are countless other faculty members that impacted me in ways that I’m still processing. Sure, it could be argued that this could have happened at any other school, but I really doubt it.
The point is, if you had told me when I was in eighth grade that I would attend OU and have my life changed for the better, I wouldn’t have believed you. God had a plan for me, but it took the removal of one dream for it to be clear.
This change may be occurring in my life again. Sure, I’m still passionate about sports and maybe there will come a time in my life where it intersects with sports again. But, if not, I will be just as content working wherever I end up. Dunham+Company is a really exciting place where I can have a lasting impact for the Kingdom of God helping raise support for nonprofit organizations. I will be using a combination of all of the skills that I have learned at OU and my internships and jobs. My dream of working in sports isn’t dead, but it has been replaced by a dream of working hard every day for the Kingdom. God has a plan for me, and it isn’t always exactly what I expected.
I recently heard a sermon about Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as if for the Lord and not for men.” This will be infinitely easier as I will be able to see the immediate impact God will be allowing me to have for the Kingdom everyday. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, prayed for me, and just let me vent to them during this difficult and trying time. The job search hasn’t been fun, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and about God’s provision. Dreams may change, God doesn’t. Rely on him and his plan for your life. Trust me, it will work out.
*Think I would have gotten that opportunity at any other big time BCS program? Not unless I was in an official cheer squad or something similar.