As Pastor Freyer so eloquently put it:
“Gratitude is a “belief and conviction that serves as a constant reminder of what you have been given, where you came from and whose shoulders you are standing on now. “
It is far more than a “thank you” or simple appreciation.
It is a humble acknowledgement of the extraordinary role that others played in getting you to this point. Gratitude is the source that in many ways fuels your journey, taking you where you ultimately want to go.
Like PF said, it is more about a way of being.
Having an “attitude of gratitude”.
So when I look back, reflect and think of all I have been freely “given”, gifted and entrusted with, I have to admit. I am quite literally stunned. It is humbling. For now, let’s just focus on just one small aspect of my life: football.
You want to talk about opportunity?
The opportunity to play in high school and college. To learn the game from some great men. To coach, to mentor, to lead. To find my voice and to write this. To be asked to speak at team dinners, banquets, classes, and conventions. To get to know all of you.
To simply be a part of all of this.
And what of the distance I have traveled. Where I started and where I am today. How far I have come as a person, a parent and a man.
But in the final analysis, it wasn’t so much because of me. Rather, it was what others saw in me. Thought of me. Believed in me.
What others thought I could do. Entrusted me to do. And yes, eventually, expected me to do.
And because they had so much faith in me, this transformation became possible. They pushed me to get right “here” – where I am today. And going forward, their enduring support will take me farther than I could have ever imagined.
And shoulders to stand on. Let’s not forget about the shoulders. And what shoulders they are:
Ken Schreiner, Gene Strode, Harley Knosher, Bentley Turner, Errol Barnett, Kevin Gemas, Dan Berger, Tim Stolz, Mitch Bartels, Jack Enea, Dave Keel, Fritz Rauch, Pastor Freyer, my dad. And that list barely even scratches the surface.
Because of them, I can truly see a much bigger picture. Now, I have a truly remarkable vantage point. I am in rarified air.
There is no way that I can repay their generosity. To compensate them for what they gave to me in terms of their time, their effort, their support and an unyielding faith. I will forever be indebted to them.
But in no way am I burdened by this.
Quite the opposite.
I have discovered mental, emotional and physical resources within that I had no idea even existed.
I have a renewed passion to take on new challenges and let opportunity take me wherever it may lead me.
I will do for all others – what everyone else has done for me – with all my might.
That is the simple and lasting power of gratitude.
So I ask you, as we head into this uniquely American holiday, to take a moment, look around, and remember whose shoulders you have stood upon.
They are all right there.
Your family. Your friends. Your teammates. Your coaches. Your teachers.
All still ready to help. To push. To take part in your transformation.
Ready to continue to be a presence in your present. A force for your future.
All the shoulders one could ever need.