95,000 opportunites 

I went to the UT vs UAB game this Saturday with my dad and my brother. There were over 95,000 people crammed into Neyland Stadium, radiating a bright orange that could probably be seen from space. UT sucks. Double overtime shouldn’t have even been necessary with UAB, but surprise – it was. UAB has quite possibly the worst kicker in the world, and that is the only thing that kept them from winning that game. After we got into double overtime, I was ready for UAB to win.. They deserved it more than us. Anyway, after being amazed by the sea of people, I started thinking. Every single person in that stadium had a story. Every person in there had problems, fears, regrets, wishes, complexities, intricate emotions, joys, memories, situations, and dreams. It looked like one collective mass of orange, but it was really individual people – each with their own story.
As I reflect on what’s happening in my life, it seems like too much. People passed me and saw a girl in a UT shirt, not the girl I really am. They didn’t see my struggles, issues, or hopes. Nevertheless, those things are settling underneath my skin, clawing deep and holding tight. It’s crazy to think that the guy at the concession stand, the guy next to me, the girl on the stairs – they all probably have just as much going on as me, or maybe more.
All we see is the projected image, edited and molded to their satisfaction.
Neylond Stadium held 95,000 opportunites for listening, learning, empathizing, caring, and being transformed by authentic stories. Let’s start on a smaller scale and pursue the stories of those around us – starting with our friends, our family, our classmates, our coworkers.
We would be nothing without memories, and memories would be nothing without stories, and stories would be nothing without listeners. Let’s be the listeners today.

New favorite song: Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns