Playing Through the Pain: Dressed for Battle


It takes time. 

Development takes time. 

There are so many forces at work during our most crucial development periods of life, that we have GOT TO DECIDE who we are in the dark before anyone knows our name. 

There is a preparation that happens in the midst of crucial development periods that only the most aware individuals will acknowledge and submit to. A lot of kids play football in high school and college, but so few actually make it to the PROs.  Have you ever wondered why that is?  I know I have.

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel. I went there with the Israel Collective Group sponsored by Coach Tony Dungy. I noticed while I was there that in the geographic region of what is now modern-day Israel, the main livelihood is either fishing or shepherding. In David’s time as well, shepherds were a dime a dozen. A lot of kids cared for the flocks that belonged to their family, but so few would ever see that preparation all the way through to the battlefield, and much less to the palace. Have you ever heard the saying, “That person (fill in the blank) is the exception, not the rule?” That was David. He was unique and special not only because he was called by God, but also because he answered God’s call AND submitted to the required process.

As a child I would often tell God,  “I want to know you in a special way.” I’ve since learned that we have got to be careful, because we don’t know how long those prayers last. The development process that I thought I was going through in my youth, wasn’t what I believe to have been the answer to that prayer.

  • When I arrived on the scene at Alternative School after making a number of mistakes, I sat down at my desk and self-reflected in a new way, realizing  my decisions up to this point were not in alignment with who I believed I was meant to be, and ultimately who I wanted to become someday.. 

  • When I fought hard on the field with grit and grind for my first starting position in high school, I was simultaneously trying to fight  for the kind of young man that I knew I needed to  be.

  • When I was working through the recruiting process in high school, trying to determine whether I would commit to the University of Oklahoma or another Division 1 academic Institution.   

  • When I was chosen in the first round by the Chicago Bears  trying to manage a type of hype I have never before experienced while simultaneously trying to hone genuine humility.

In hindsight, I don’t recall a more crucial developmental period than the time I endured preparation after losing my wife in 2012.  Mustering the courage, fight, tenacity, and desire to press forward daily after enduring that loss forced me to employ serious self reflection about my belief in God. It was at that moment with tear filled eyes and a heavy heart that I asked myself, “Is your faith prepared for this? Tommie, are you developed enough to survive this?”

In considering those crucial development moments for me, I invite you to self-reflect: Have you ever had to ask yourself, “Is my faith prepared for this? 

Am I developed enough? Have I studied enough? Have I prayed enough?” If we’re being incredibly honest here, “Will my faith sustain me to survive this?”

We’ve often heard it said that ‘God will not put more on you than you can handle,’  but that isn’t true. In fact, that direct quote is not stated in the bible at all. It’s a sort of ‘euphemism’ that is intended to encourage believers in the worst of their long-suffering, but it isn’t biblically accurate on its face. It’s our job as believers to take a deeper dive into that ‘saying’ to better understand what God might have actually said in the bible along these lines.  

He’s saying: He won’t let you go through anything you can’t handle without HIS HELP.

Jesus says in Matthew 19:26: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

So, with HIS HELP in mind, ask yourself the question again: Is my faith prepared for this? Am I developed enough?