When Everything Goes Wrong

Last month, I sprained my ankle during lacrosse practice. The first week of the season. And due to the combination of the nature of a sprain and my unwise attempt to quickly return to regular activity, the healing process has been quite slow. I’ve had to stand and watch every single game and practice, watch as my team runs and sprints and passes the ball and scores, unable to play the sport that I love.

Going to the games made me angry. In all honesty, it still lingers in the pit of my chest as I sit with the trainers and do the same ankle exercises while my teammates feel the wind in their face and the burn in their legs. Everything went wrong… perfectly. Just the right time to end my season. I re-injured it the day before I was supposed to play in a game for the first time in two years–COVID took away our season last year. And after struggling with various personal issues, lacrosse was going to be my release. To top it all off, I’m expected to heal around the last week(s) that we play this year.

I’d like to believe in the validity of my frustration. Here’s an excerpt from my journal the day after I injured it:

“I fear that as life goes on and time and time again I am disappointed by its blows, I understand more and more why the existentialists and the nihilists take hope or meaning or purpose out of the picture. Expect nothing, and you will hop over the bottomless pools of despair that pull the optimistic underwater. The terrible will no longer feel as terrible if you have refrained from setting the standards of good and bad. They’re dependent upon each other. Remove the necessity of the one and the other will have no basis for existence.”

When everything seems to go wrong, it’s easy to fall into this pattern of thinking: the world is against me, nothing matters, I should just expect the worst. And the infamous, “Why?” Why me? Why now? What’s the point?

What I’ve been reminded of (the hard way), however, is that the pieces have to fall apart in order to fall back together, as cliche as it sounds. I have developed a deeper appreciation for not only the sport of lacrosse but also the privilege to walk and run. I have been forced into learning patience. When the source of my joy and contentment is a temporary, earthly experience, I will be let down without fail. The importance of fixing my eyes upon Jesus through everything has become all the more evident to me.

Of course it sucks. I’d rather not admit how many times I’ve cried over it. But despite my initial inclination to consider the meaningless of all existence, I have realized that purpose is revealed exactly when everything goes wrong. As my coach said, I was meant to hobble around on crutches for most of the season, and in that I must trust.

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