I played football in college. Well, played is a generous word, I practiced - shall we say - football in college. Never the less, I was on the team and my life completely revolved around it. I studied game film, lifted weights, choked down protein shakes at 5am, all of it. And I did it 100 miles per hour.

Even though I was a minor part of the program, the program was a major part of me. My identity was completely tied to it. So when my career unceremoniously ended after a knee injury, my whole world came crashing down.

That was ten years ago. My 31-year-old heart still carries the baggage that my 21-year-old knees couldn’t.

So this week, as I was sitting on my couch, feeding my 3-month-old son a bottle and watching the ESPYs – a familiar voice crept back into my head.

“You’ve never accomplished anything.”

I watched Odell Beckam Jr. win the award for Best Play. I watched Steph Curry win for Best Male Athlete. Instead of enjoying highlights and montages of the world’s most gifted athletes, I was consumed with a voice that kept telling me I peaked in college – and that peak was actually pretty small. In a matter of seconds, my athletic regrets ballooned to consume the size of my salary, the square footage of my house and the condition of my car.

Life is about performance. Earning. Advancing. Improving. This is how the world works; everything is a line on the resume. Sports are no different. They’re just sexier. Wins. Championships. Records. Trophies. The entire reason ESPN exists is to document and commentate on these things.

Non-scholarship walk-ons, stay-at-home moms, CEOs, algebra teachers, communication directors, we’re all in the same boat. We preform in order to be accepted. The only difference is how we keep score.

This is why the gospel is the most counter intuitive philosophy the world has ever known. Everything else says, “Not enough, keep trying.” The gospel says, “It is finished.” Everything else says, “Get better or else.” The gospel says, “Come to me and I’ll give you rest.”

On my worst days – when I’m convinced that if my knee held up I would have won the Heisman – I am comforted that God actually prefers the underachievers. He is drawn to the prodigal, the outsider, the child, the poor – those who have nothing to barter with.

Jesus takes the unqualified, the junior varsity, the amateur and says, “these are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus gives the verdict before the performance, and that makes me want to go 100 miles per hour again.

Bubby Bryan
Director of Communications