When I was a freshman in high school, our first three basketball games were nail biters – two of them went into overtime and a third was decided with one second left. In our final timeout in each of the three, I prayed for god to make me a hero of the game. I actually prayed as Jesus instructed in the bible, something along the lines of telling God you believe anything can be accomplished if he wills it (I forgot the exact wording). The first time I did this, I sank 5 out of 6 free throws in the final minute of the game to seal the victory. The second time I stole an inbounds pass with 6 seconds left, was fouled as I raced for a lay up, and buried both free throws with one second left to break a tie game and beat our nemesis. The third time, I buried four free throws in the final minute of overtime to win the game a third time. I remember the morning after the third game, my dad saying, “I used to dream about winning a game with last minute free throws, and you’ve done it three games in a row.”
But I felt guilty. I felt guilty about praying for something so trivial as being the hero in a freshman basketball game. So, after the third time, when I was actually a little weirded out and to this day (although I am no longer spiritual or religious) I still wonder how that could be coincidence, I promised never to pray for anything specific again. Instead, if I pray, I pray for strength and courage to deal with what comes. And although I for sure had good games after those three games, I never again sank a last minute winning free throw (in fact, I missed a free throw that would have ended a tie game in the playoffs the next season, although luckily we won in the overtime period).
The last couple of years have been relatively difficult in my career. I’ve worked for three awful companies in a row, and am now struggling to get into my stated goal of getting into a winning company, ironically because of the poor reputation of my last companies. And I keep feeling the temptation of praying again, like I did that one year, but I will resist the urge and will continue to knock on wood, do my best and hope that things work in my favor.
It’s important to keep a promise, even when tempted 🙂