Dear Tim Tebow,
I’m writing this not because I think you’ll ever read it, but because I’m finally starting to convince myself that I’m a writer – and sometimes the only way I process things well is to get them out on paper. Or a screen, of course. This blog is a little outlet that helps me record thoughts and reflections so that they are hopefully preserved to look back on for years to come. And I have had some thoughts rolling around in my head over the last few days regarding you that I’d like to remember.
Last weekend, I took my kids to watch you play baseball here in our area. I knew it would be a little crazy because the news of you coming to town had been in the media, but I wasn’t fully prepared for what we would find there at that game. There’s been a lot of talk lately of “Tebow haters” and the question keeps being asked of what there is about you to dislike. I’m sure there sadly are plenty of those people out there, but what I saw at this game wasn’t haters. It was thousands of crazed people obsessed with the idea of being close to a celebrity. I realized I haven’t been anywhere near too many true celebrities, and it honestly made me a bit sad for what they have to go through every single day.
We got there pretty early because my boys have grown to really admire you, and have even been blessed with some shirts and hats representing your name that they love to wear proudly. They thought maybe, just maybe, they might get to say “hi” to you. But we definitely weren’t early enough. The front of the stadium was filled with people just waiting to see if you would come near them and sign something of theirs before the game began. Most had Gators memorabilia. A few Broncos. Not much Mets at all. People love to relive their glory days, for sure.
We waited for a long time as more and more people pushed their way in to the crowd, as finally some of your team members began to run on to the field. Then, at long last, you ran out to join them. And the crowd erupted with cheers. I wondered what your team mates thought about that. I wondered what you thought about that. I wondered if it made you cringe inside that no one was cheering for anyone on your team but you. Baseball’s a team sport, and I’m well aware that you have always been defined by your humility.
But you definitely have also learned how to ignore the fans and focus on your warm up, keeping your attention where it should be. You managed to make time for a few autographs after warm ups before running to take your place in line right as the first notes of the national anthem began, reminding even all those annoyed people who didn’t get an autograph of what’s truly important. And it was from that point on that night that I became even more inspired by you.
When I purchased our seats a few weeks back, I let my son pick them, and he had wanted to sit by first base that night. That means we were away from all the crazy fans in the section near the guest team’s dugout. It also meant that we got to watch you from across the field as you made your way on and off the field, and as you interacted with your team in the dugout. We got to see you give “high fives” to awaiting kids in the stands every single time you ran on and off the field. We got to see you kneel down at the end of the dugout to greet the teen boy sitting on the other side of the wall. And of course, we got to see you run out to stand on the field with the beautiful young lady with cerebral palsy, who asked for you before she sang “God Bless America” to the crowd in the seventh inning stretch.
And at the end of the game, I had received what I call a very clear lesson in intentionality. That choice to make every moment that you’re given on the field count not only to do your very best as an athlete, but as a conduit to spread God’s love to people around you. Not because you are trying to make a name for yourself or gain status among all those fair-weather fans, but because you know without a doubt Whose you are and Who you’ve chosen to live for.
I’ve never played baseball before but I love to watch it, and left field doesn’t look like all that exciting of a position to me. Not too many balls came your way, but you had to spend a lot of time just standing there waiting, just in case one did. But the time in between innings – in your conversations and high fives and smiles with fans – showed that this journey of yours is about way more than baseball. And now I see more clearly what you wrote about in your book I read not all that long ago, on how you can survive life’s letdowns and challenges. Because football and baseball careers don’t last forever for even the best of players. But relationships, both with Christ and others, do.
Plumb has a song with a line in it that I love – “We do not exist for us, but to share Your grace and love…” Truer words have never been spoken, when it comes right down to it. So… thank you for showing me a living example of that as I watched you play this past weekend.
Thank you, with your local games going on at the same time as these terrible race riots around our country, for reminding all of us that love always wins.
Thank you, for giving me the opportunity to remind my kids that we can survive any season in life when we live for more than just that season, but for eternity.
Thank you, for giving my rising young men, one of them with his dream of higher level sports someday, the powerful message through your actions, not words, that their love for God and for others will always be way more important in the end than any career successes.
Thank you, for leaving me with the challenge that’s still in my head long after the last ball of the game was thrown and I left the “adoring” fans – to live every moment of every day with a Kingdom mindset and purposeful intentionality. No regrets.