I remember when I was a junior in high school and playing in the big homecoming football game. The stands were packed and as we entered the fourth quarter I went back to receive a punt. Back then, I was a sure-handed player with good speed and aspirations to play at the next level. However, none of that mattered when the punt slipped through my hands, bounced between my legs, and slowly rolled end-over-end, out of my reach as I was sandwiched by two opposing players running full speed.
It was physically painful and emotionally disheartening because the game was on the line and the other team just recovered the ball on our 20 yard line. As I pulled myself up, I had to make the 25 yard jaunt back to the sidelines. As you might expect, it seemed like a journey of a thousand miles that had nothing but bad news and angry sentiments waiting for me.
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult or painful situation like this? I was ashamed, embarrassed and felt like a failure because I had let myself, my parents, my classmates and even the team down. It suddenly didn’t matter that I had an interception earlier in the game or that I scored a touchdown the week before. I was quickly and unexpectedly in a deep dark hole that I never planned for.
Just as no player ever practices running back to the sideline with your head hung low in both guilt and shame, many people can experience the same thing when divorce, loss of loved one, sudden unemployment, or forced retirement shows up on their door step.