God, there were a lot of times I questioned your decisions, where I could have sworn that you had screwed up, but I'm starting to realize that you don't make mistakes.
When I was a kid, the only thing on my mind was getting out of this town. I knew I had something special. I had the speed, the intelligence, the agility, I had it all. I had it. I wonder how many hours you watched me watch game film, study my craft, workout, beat myself up on the quest for perfection. I knew I was undersized, I mean all you have to do is look at me to know that I wasn't your typical athlete, but I had heart, and no coach could tell me otherwise. I wonder how many times you shook your head when I took a big hit but forced myself back up, how many times you watched me pass out due to injury after the game. I never allowed myself to quit, I knew I was the best option for my team, but I know now you wanted me to stay down, I just wasn't listening. I was only listening to the coaches that told me I had something special, the crowd cheering my name, strangers telling me how good I was, but I wasn't listening to you.
You made me listen, though. God, when you destroyed my shoulder, you almost destroyed me. I thought about faith a lot that year. I decided that loving this game could never be a sin, and if it was, then I would look you straight in the eyes and tell you I wanted no place in heaven because this game and how it made me feel was all the heaven I ever needed. God, you didn't even let me ride into the sunset. I tried so hard to play through it, give myself a fairytale ending, but you had other plans. To this day I am still known as the player who completely destroyed her shoulder and had to give up the game she loved, but today I realize it was just your way of telling me, "slow down kid, I have bigger plans for you".
Then you gave me Pier 500. I don't think anyone will ever be able to understand how much that place meant to me. When you gave me Pier 500, you didn't give me a job, you gave me a family. I honestly don't know who I would be today if it wasn't for that job, those people. God, you gave some of the greatest opportunities of my life there, but there was one you refused to give me. You didn't allow me to get the management job I had been dreaming about since I was just 15. I had all the support in the world, but I was still too young. Man, I could have cursed you out for that one. The day I left, I wasn't even sad, I was mad. You knew what you were doing though because my drive to become a great manager is stronger than ever.
I can't write this article without mentioning my stomach issues. Easily two of the worst years of my life. I'll never forget when I broke down at Pier and the ENTIRE staff comforted me in the back--like I said you gave me a family. I finished the shift because of their love because I don't quit in the middle of the game.
Oddly enough, some of my best, most cherished memories have come from my worst days. You really tested me with my stomach issues. How many times did you watch me fall to my knees begging you to take my pain away? I imagine you lost count, but you didn't let the pain end, instead, you gave me courage, so thank you for that. And even though I don't understand the whole reason for this yet, I imagine sometime soon I'll hear you say, "I needed to slow you down for this very reason".
Looking back, I realize that you always had my best intentions in mind. When you made me, I don't think you realized how big of a heart I would have and how that would affect my life. I tested you just as much as you tested me. Thank you for always giving me what I needed rather than what I wanted. I know now that this is all part of your master plan. Thank you for reminding me that life isn't a sprint, that I need to take my time on this. I'll see you at the finish line.