Breathe and Smile

Written by on 03/19/2024

I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity the head coach gave me to speak and share with his team before their conference tournament championship game. As the stage was being set, there was no doubt that nerves and pressure could start to settle in. I vividly remember sharing these 3 key words “Breathe and Smile.”

My mind started racing back and rehearsing some big games and moments that I was able to experience, both as a player and a coach. Too many times, I failed to slow down to breathe and enjoy the moment that God was allowing me to participate in or experience.

Again the moment could be a game, a play, an interview, a speaking engagement, a conversation. It could be more significant like your wedding ceremony, the birth of your son or daughter. These moments, situations, and experiences will no doubt happen throughout our lives. Again my advice to myself and others is this: “Breathe and Smile.”

Take the time to take a few deep breathes and praise God for the moment while you inhale and exhale. Think of the journey, the process, the climb that brought you to the top of this mountain. Breathing allows us to slow down and fully appreciate the experience. Think of the individuals, family members, teammates, spouse, parents who have been with you on this journey. Breathe and thank God for placing them in your life. Name them individually and whisper a prayer of praise to God as you slowly breathe, inhaling and exhaling each breath.  With each deep and concentrated breath, you can fully enjoy the moment of watching your bride walk down the aisle or the moment your first child is born. Breathing allows us to enjoy the moment of the family meal and all 4 kids sitting at the dinner table, laughing and sharing stories. Again whatever the moment or situation is “Breathe”.

Smile. Smiling lets the world know you are truly enjoying the experience. God created enjoyment and loves to see His children having fun and enjoying these moments. Smile and even laugh at a few of the mistakes you made along the way. Smile at the memories you created during the season. Smile and think through the pain, the hurt, and the lessons the journey and ultimately what God was teaching you. “We enjoy God at the top of the mountain, we experience God during the climb”.

As the team went out to defeat their opponent, I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on the faces of the coaches, the players, their families, and the 3,000 plus fans that packed the Edmunds Center in Deland, Florida. My prayer is that when Coach Jones and his Stetson Hatters tip up for their first ever experience of participating in the NCAA tournament that they will “Breathe and Smile.”

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