Yesterday, on my 25th birthday, I woke up with the voice of my high school PE coach echoing in my mind.
“Two Five. Two Five.”
Anytime someone had gotten themselves into trouble in class he simply said the words “Two Five” and the guilty party would drop into push-up position for 25 reps. Thankfully, those words were never directed at me because I don’t think I could have even done 25 push-ups.
I don’t know what prompted this memory outside of the fact that this birthday is number 25, but I smiled as I remembered Coach M. and his push-up punishment. I didn’t know him well beyond the walls of the gym for that one semester, but this one memory made me smile even 10 years later. As I sat there, I began thinking about the other people in my life who have had left their mark.
Some people come into our lives for a semester or a season or a second. Some set up shop and stay for an entire lifetime. I’m grateful for another year of life, but I’m more grateful for the people who have shaped and pressed in and challenged and impacted me even if it only took a second. So while this post is inherently about my life, I want to use it as a space to say thank you to these people.
Thank you to Coach McCroskey and every other educator who taught and laughed and encouraged and inspired me to learn, to lead, to be better, or to do better one semester or year at a time.
Thank you to friends and mentors who stayed for a season, whether that be a season of football, sorority life, school, work, or some random summer camp. Maybe it was a season of breaking apart or a season of growing together in faith or in work or in life. In any case, thank you for being present in that season. Thank you for the sparkles of joy I find in our memories and for the tough realities we faced together.
Thank you to people who have only needed a second to bring a smile or a laugh or a reminder that there are good, honest people in this world. To the woman in the parking lot who commented on my shirt and reminded me to live out the words “Be Kind,” because the world always needs more kindness. To those who have held doors as an act of service. To the baristas who hand me strong cups of coffee with a smile, reminding me that a single smile from a stranger really can lift your spirits. To those who having no intention of teaching or reminding or challenging my every day life did so purely by living theirs, thank you.
Thank you to the people who have been with me through every moment and impacted my life in profoundly meaningful ways. For the family by blood and the family by choice and the community I grew up surrounded by. The people who have reflected the faithfulness of Christ in never leaving my side in good times and in bad. Those who taught me what it means to love all neighbors, to respect all people, and to care. Those who imitate Christ in word and in deed, and who by their imitation show me what it means to walk with Christ as His disciple and His beloved and His friend.
In the words of Bob Goff: “Sometimes when we ask God to send us an answer, He sends us a friend.”
For every friend (including family) past and present, thank you. For each kindness, each ounce of love, each honest moment of accountability, each hard conversation, each kick in the tail, each laugh-til-you-cry memory, each time forgiveness was desperately needed and graciously given, and each perfectly timed reminder of Jesus. You have been an answer to prayer, and while it may have taken me 25 years to say it: thank you.