I cram my suitcase with all the essentials – knee pads, a fluffy blanket, and a plethora of snacks. I shove the mound of things into the outermost corner to allow room for my pillow.
It’s that time of year again. Volleyball season is in full swing. October 1st announces the eve of nationals.
As I pack for our trip, I can’t help but recall the 2017 national tournament in Missouri. The memories bring back a collection of mixed emotions.
I remember feeling anxious, to say the least. Anxious at the thought of frequent fast-food outings and the eight-hour long bus ride that was to be expected. I was anxious at the thought of leaving home – the thought of leaving my strictly regimented routine.
Yet I was also excited. Excited to get away from my mother’s all-seeing eye. Excited at the opportunity to further restrict my food intake. Excited to exercise in secret. Excited for all the wrong reasons.
Overall, the week was a blur. My focus was solely food. I was starving. My empty stomach distracted from friends, sightseeing, and conversations to be had.
One night, we made a stop at Steak and Shake for dinner. In a frenzied panic, I ordered a grilled chicken salad. I asked that the bacon strips and croutons be removed. I asked for dressing on the side. I mentally tallied the numbers. Too much, I thought. Still too much. Too unhealthy. Too fattening. I requested “no cheese, please.”
My plate arrived, a pitiful portion of lettuce, shredded carrot, and chunks of chicken – a meal that provided zero happiness, satisfaction, or enjoyment.
My friends laughed through mouthfuls of onion rings. The cute cashier was probably the main topic of conversation. But I wouldn’t know. I was barely present, lost in my own world of self-destruction.
I wish I could go back. I would order the greasiest cheeseburger for the girl with cold hands. I would purchase a large Oreo milkshake for the girl with hollow cheeks. And yes, I would like an order of fries with that. But the experience goes far beyond a substantial meal.
I wish I could go back to the people. I wish I were there to participate in deep discussions. I would play card games and joke about the attractive cashier. I would stay up late to talk about the newest Netflix series that is “so addictive.” I would braid hair whilst talking about boys.
If only I could go back, I would spend less time in the bathroom. Less squats, more socializing. Less tears, more talking. No regrets, only sweet remembrance.
But, wish as I might, I can’t go back. I cannot retrieve wasted time.
Throughout the Bible, we see many examples of God’s mercies. He offers free forgiveness and bestows upon us second chances.
As I prepare for a week of volleyball games, I count it all joy that I have been given a do-over! I do not take this trip for granted. I am so grateful to travel with my friends – not only to eat food together, but to giggle, grow, and play as a team.
I look forward to the long drive. I look forward to the convenience of fast-food. I look forward to strengthened relationships, and best of all, I look forward to winning the championship title with my girls!