Blink

How many times a day does one person blink?

Blinking. The refreshment to your eyes, washing everything anew from the air you expose them to.

I know I blinked today. But what I didn’t expect was that one of my blinks was different. One of the blinks refreshed my eyes in a completely different way, and I felt as if I was surrounded by a new kind of air.

Today, my church had youth group. We’re incredibly small, and we ended up having only one student who wasn’t also a leader, totally to five participants. I’m the youngest. I’ve always been the youngest.

When my mom pulled into the parking lot, I saw the various vehicles. I noticed that many of them stayed, but I put no thought to it. My one friend had driven in, but her mom was going to bring the car back later. I turned my attention elsewhere.

The time flew, and I enjoyed the fellowship with my friends. We sang, we watched an invigorated preacher share his message, and heard a brief passage relating to Easter. Then, we played improv for the last time. Only now has this finally clicked.

Our last improv was a retake of our funniest improv ever–Jimmy in Freezer. By this point, my cousin was out the door, my one friend’s mother had returned with the car, and I was the last to watch this retake with our two best actors.

They couldn’t do it. Our youth leader chuckled and said, “You know, I can’t seem to pull off that character when someone asks me to do it.” We proceeded to lock up the building.

My cousin was still in the parking lot. My mother nowhere in sight, I ask him to call her on his new phone and ask how long she’ll be. He’s sitting in his new car, his phone to his ear, and I’m struck suddenly by how adult he looks.

My best friend pulls up in her family van, trying to escape the parking lot. I realize it’s dark. I tell her to be careful, and she laughs and reminds me that she’s done this before.

She pulls away. I wait with my cousin and the youth leader. Five minutes pass. For a moment, it’s all the same. My cousin shows me how loud the volume gets on the stereo of his new car. We joke. We laugh.

My mother pulls in. Each boy climbs into his vehicle and prepares to drive away, and again, I’m struck by how adult they seem. My newly licensed cousin drives away, and I climb into the van. My mom pulls away.

When did I blink?

When did everyone around me grow up?

When did my being the baby seem so evident and pressing?

When did my being the baby seem like it’s coming to an end?

I blinked today. My eyes were refreshed to the coming adulthood surrounding me.

Everyone says that at sixteen, life gets thrown at them.

I didn’t believe it until now.

Improv died today. We’ve retired the game in search of something more meaningful. Even this evening, it didn’t seem to fit. In just one day, one evening, everything I’d grown accustomed to in my teenage years transformed into something that’s slowly blossoming.

Soon I’ll be driving.

Soon people will be looking at me, holding back tears, wondering when I grew up.

They blinked.

We blink.

I blinked.

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Favor

Easter Sunday–the day we remember what Christ has done for us, although we did not deserve it, and remind ourselves of the plan He has for our lives.

Robotics Competition–the day when inspired technological teens battle with gracious professionalism to prove that their months of constant labor meet the challenge, and do so well.

Put them together? Well, you get nice little revelations.

The week of coming Easter Sunday, my Robotics Team, Biohazard 4050, attended the Chesapeake Regional in Maryland. After our severe disappointment at Pittsburgh, we had worked to perfect a new addition to our robot, hoping that this new innovation would send us to the top of the regional in Baltimore.

Frankly, our robot did much better than in Pittsburgh. We had two new fantastic drivers, a game plan, and a better organized pit space. Honestly, after our scouters wrapped up their data analysis at the end of Friday, we saw that we were one of the top scoring landfill robots.

However, we weren’t enough to send us to the top. Luckily, the top seeded team needed a good landfill robot, and they gave us a chance. If our match together fared well, they would highly consider us.

We did wonderfully.

During the intense finals selection process, my team sat anxiously in the stands. There’s three robots to an alliance, and we listened as each third spot was filled. We crept through, getting closer and closer to the first seed of eight. Before they could make their selection, the announcer gave a speech about the accomplishments of every FIRST team, whether they made it to the finals or not–and nearly every member of my team felt the echo of, “highly consider us” and screamed in their heads, “Put us out of our misery!”

When they called “4050”, we screamed so loud that nearly every head turned to stare.

So we proceeded into the finals with the best of the best.

It was how the alliances fell. Each had at least one fantastic robot, but with the combination of the first- and second- seeded teams, they just couldn’t beat the alliance that we were a part of.

We breezed through the quarter- and semi- finals. When the finals came, we only needed to win two matches of three.

They didn’t even need to have three. Our alliance won the first two. We won the regional. We were going to St. Louis, the World Championship, for the first time in our team history.

And as a scouter, I knew something. It was very clear. We were given favor.

Our robot had time, effort, love, sweat, tears, hate, and probably a little blood poured into it. But every robot had that. And the robots that completed the challenge excellently–they deserved to go.

Jesus didn’t have to die for us. He chose that. It was favor, a gift, a blessing. He died for us, a choice.

My team was chosen. In my opinion, we didn’t deserve it. There were tons of teams that deserved to go, simply because of the time and sweat they poured into this yearly effort.. Did our alliance deserve to go? Absolutely. The two teams that selected us, 1690 and 2363, were amazing. So what should we do?

We should improve our robot to honor their selection of us. The favor they gave us was unbelievable.

I’m still incredibly proud of my team. I’m proud of what we accomplished. I’m proud of my scouters. I’m proud that we proved ourselves as the best landfill bot at the regional, and provided what we could for the number one and two seeded teams.

Favor. It’s amazing. It’s humbling.

And it’s everywhere.