Well, that was a quick semester. It feels so great to be done with finals. I’m one step closer to earning my college degree. As I get older, each semester of college seems to go by faster…
Two classes gave me trouble this semester: Marketing management and intro to sociology. Both required several hours of studying each week for multiple choice exams that seemed to have all correct answers! I could hardly narrow it down to even 2 of the 4 or 5 possible choices. But I passed these courses, and that’s all that matters.
Unrelated to academics, I experienced a lot of new things this semester, many of which have been the highlights of 2014. Each day for the past few months, I’ve had the choice where I can either revisit old memories, or create new ones. I discovered that creating new memories is the better option.
First, I went white water rafting in the Ocoee River in Tennessee. This was a part of Campus Outreach’s fall retreat, during a chilly October weekend. CO is a campus ministry that meets on Wednesday nights. I had never been white water rafting before. The water was cold. Nobody in our raft fell out. I spent time in the back and the front, paddling hard. Five other guys were in the raft besides me, and we had one “raft guide” named Justus. White water rafting was definitely a highlight of my semester that I will remember for many years, and I’d love to do it again!
Next, a memorable event that took place this fall was the Tough Mudder. Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile (18-20 km) obstacle course designed to test all-around strength, stamina, teamwork, and mental grit. It’s Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet. This particular Mudder was in Montgomery City, MO, about an hour from my hometown of St. Louis. I had signed up for this months in advance, with 6 other men from my home church, Kirk of the Hills. Some of these men are pastors who have had a tremendous influence in my spiritual growth, and I’m very thankful God placed them in my life. I was the youngest one but not the strongest. I ran and did pushups/pull-ups for prepare for the Tough Mudder. Nine days before the event, I broke my left ring finger playing intramural flag football at Samford. While I was bummed about my finger, I wasn’t going to let a minor setback keep me from completing the obstacle course. I was limited in what I could do, of course, considering only having one good hand. My teammates helped my climb over walls by giving me a boost. I was very careful not to participate in obstacles such as the monkey bars, mount everest, and others. These parts of the course could’ve made my finger worse. However, running 10-12 miles was not an issue for me. We trudged through mile after mile of thick mud. It had just rained a bunch, which the mud even thicker. I had to stop jogging on several occasions and walk. It was more difficult than running on the beach through sand! My entire shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes were covered in mud at various points of the course. This is what makes the event memorable, the fact that even girls aren’t afraid to get there whole outfits filthy. I hope to complete the Tough Mudder again next year, with no broken fingers. Nevertheless, it was a highlight of my year.
The final new event that I participated in is probably my proudest accomplishment to date. I did something that I once thought was impossible. I ran the Magic City half marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving.
It was a rainy Sunday morning, around 60 degrees. I had trained with two of my close friends leading up to the race. Their names are Graham Lehman and Grant Schumpert. You should get to know these guys if you haven’t already. The farthest we ran before this 13.1 mile race was between 9 and 10 miles. We started in September, running 3-5 miles two or three times during the week, then increasing our mileage with a longer run on the weekend. The key was consistency.
On race day, the adrenaline carried us. I finished in just under 2 hours. I was in the zone! It was a great run, marked by a hilly course through downtown Birmingham. At about mile 5 or 6, my right leg started to bother me. But, I kept going and only stopped once very briefly to take a sip of water. Pain in my right calf/hamstring area prevented me from running fast for part of the way. However, after pushing through it, I hardly felt it anymore. They put a huge medal around everyone’s neck once we crossed the finish line. We rewarded ourselves afterward by eating at our favorite restaurant, Mugshots Bar and Grill. Mugshots has the best burgers in town. I didn’t feel guilty about eating unhealthy that day!
Praise God for giving us physical bodies that we can use to glorify him. Health is something that I never want to take for granted.
This semester, I also experienced true freedom for the first time in my life. I’ll explain what I mean by freedom. I didn’t feel bound to anything or anyone, and it was awesome. I was free to talk to whoever I wanted to, girls or guys. I reconnected with old friends, some from high school, some from college, and will continue to make new friends. I also felt free in that I can choose to do anything with my life. I didn’t truly think about this concept of freedom before, because of two family businesses that I’ve been born into. The family businesses are on my dad’s side. I’ve always felt some pressure from the dad to work in the family business, even though he’s told me multiple times that I can do whatever I want after my college graduation. My dad is a mechanical engineer, who worked for his dad, who worked for his dad. He is the president of a company called American Pulverizer. What my dad does is awesome, no doubt. And he’s provided excellently for my family. That being said, I’ve seen the generational patterns and I’ve chosen to go a different route by majoring in journalism. If my dad REALLY had a choice of where he wanted to work, I wonder if he would’ve chosen differently. He’ll say that he wanted to go into the family business, but my honest guess is that he felt like he had to. Now, I wonder “what will happen to the business if neither me or my want to take over?” I can’t predict the future. All I can say is that I want freedom. I want the choice of where I can work and live. I’ve had my entire life planned out for me since I was a little kid. Having my life planned out since childhood has not enabled me to feel free.
Life moves pretty fast. Opportunities come and go in the blink of an eye. I want to make the most of every opportunity I get to live life to its fullest.