It happened a few weeks ago, another one of those It was the last time I will ever … moments. It was the last time I experienced something so meaningful and enjoyable that it brought on a tinge of sadness knowing I will never experience it again.
But based on several other last time I will ever … events in my life I know I can be thankful for what comes next. And so can you. It’s what I talk about in today’s episode, the first in my “Thankful in November” series starting today.
But before we get into today’s episode, here’s what this podcast is all about.
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If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.
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The last little league baseball game I will ever see
I’ve got three, “the last time I will ever… ” stories to share with you today. Events in my life I’m thankful for this November, a month we celebrate thankfulness. I’m talking about them today hoping it will get you thinking about your the last time I will ever… moments in your life that you can be thankful for.
The first of my stories is prompted by the times I drive past a local park near where we live. It’s where our twin grandsons, Grant and George played little league baseball when they were young. They’re both 20 years old now and in college.
They played in this baseball league through 6th grade, which was the age limit by which they could participate. Driving past this park reminds me of the last baseball game they played in. They played for one of those leagues that downplay competitiveness so that everyone on the team gets to play in every game. Even if it is just for an inning. It was all about fun, not about winning.
The last out to win the game and end the season
In the boys’ last game for the season at this park, their team was up by a run at the top of the last inning. George was playing first base, Grant was at third. The batter for the other team hit a grounder to Grant, who fielded the ball cleanly. He then reared back and with all his might and strength threw the ball in the air as hard as his skinny arm would allow to his brother at first base. George easily caught the ball on the fly, and stepped on first base to make the final out to end the game. The final play, of the final game, of their final season as little league baseball players.
Shortly after this. it hit me, this was the last time I will ever see them play little league baseball together again. It was the end of an era in their still very young lives. It was the end of the joy Janet and I were so thankful for that we could be part of as spectators. More joy would come later for other things, but this one last moment. This one last time I will ever … moment filled me with joy I am still thankful for years later.
I’m thankful for being part of the joy they experienced in playing well together for the very last time. Thankful to see that last play that so symbolizes their connection with each as twin brothers.
Her last tennis match I will ever see
Another of my the last time I will ever… moments happened just a few weeks ago. Our granddaughter Eleanor is a high school senior and has been on her school’s tennis team since she was a freshman. It’s been a great run for her in many ways.
Girls’ high school tennis is a fall sport where we live. Each season concludes with a state tournament that began a few weeks ago. I drove out to the school where the first round was to be held to watch Eleanor play. I knew she wasn’t going to know until after she warmed up if she’d even be able to play. Eleanor’s had a painful knee problem for the last part of the season, and then the callouses on her feet had recently broken open, exposing very tender skin. Yikes.
She decided after warming up to give it a go, so I watched her play and win her match. Though she won and advanced to the next round, the pain in her knee and feet was too much, forcing her to withdraw from the next round. The risk of further injury was too great and not worth it. You see Eleanor is also very active in ballet, and an important performance was coming up. She didn’t want to jeopardize participation in her last year of dance.
But I was so happy and thankful she got to win the last high school match she will ever play in. Yet at the same time, I felt a pit in my stomach knowing this was the last time I will ever see her do so. It was kind of sad, actually.
The next thing after the last thing
I’m sure you’ve had your own this is the last time I will ever… moments in life. The thing I’ve learned about them is that they often lead to something better. It’s not always true, but often the last time of experiencing something good makes room for the next thing – a better thing – to occur.
As with most kids, Eleanor learned valuable lessons in sports that will serve her well for many years into the future. Her last time I will ever… moment was built upon hard work, sacrifice, dealing with adversity, and self-discipline. It’s prepared her well for something even better coming down the road as a young adult. What she learned in her last thing has been great preparation for the next thing, whatever that may be.
Two of the last time I will ever… moments converge
There’s an interesting connection to this last-time-moment of Eleanor’s and one of my own the last time I will ever…events. At least it’s interesting to me, and hopefully to you, too.
In the four years Eleanor played tennis for her school, she had never played at the high school where the sectionals for the state tournament were held, and where she played her last ever tennis match. It surprised me because the school is fairly close to her own. I thought the two were in the same conference, but they weren’t, I later learned.
The connection with me is that I was a teacher for 7+ years at this very same high school where Eleanor played her last tennis match. It is the site of one of the most significant last time I will ever … moments in my life.
In December of 1978, at the end of the last school day right before Christmas. I walked out of my classroom, down the stairs, and out to the parking lot to my car to drive away for the last time I will ever teach at that school. Or any school for that matter. I did so with tears in my eyes because I so loved my job. It was a great experience for me, one I’ve always been thankful for even many years later.
But on this day I was hanging it up for the last time. Why I left teaching is a story for another day, but for now, I can tell you I felt God calling me into the business world. In order to do this, our school superintendent was so kind and gracious in letting me out of my teaching contract in the middle of the year.
On to the next thing
“Best of luck to you,” he said the last time I saw him. “I got started in business and years ago made the switch o public education. Now you’re going in the opposite direction. I hope it works out well for you, but if it doesn’t, you’ll be welcomed back here if we have an opening.”
Eleanor’s last time I will ever play high school tennis and my last time I will ever teach in a high school occurred in the very same place, just 40-some years apart.
My last time I will ever teach at that high school led to a 25-year career in business, which paved the way for 10+ years in the missionary care ministry My wife and I are involved in now.
I am so thankful for this last time ever experience, even for the sadness that came with it, because it showed I was leaving something meaningful to me. There was a sense of loss in the midst of the excitement of going to something new, with all the possibilities that awaited me in the business world.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for your life?
It’s important to note that not all the last time I will ever… moments are as positive as the ones I’ve described. Living in a fallen world as we do, there’s the last time we will ever see a loved one, the last time I will ever work at a job I was forced out of, the last time I will ever find joy in a relationship that ended, etc. You know what I’m talking about.
Having said this, though, it’s helpful to look for the joy when we go through a the last time I will ever… moment. Sometimes the joy is found in a beautiful memory it created, and sometimes it’s found in anticipating the future.
I wonder what joy you may have found in one of your the last time I will ever… moments. I bet our other listeners would love to know, too. You can share this in the “Leave a Comment” box at the bottom of the show notes, or you can send it to me in an email to email@example.com.
Better yet, respond with your phone or computer by going to PodinBox.com/John, and record your answer, much like leaving a voice mail.
Relationship question of the month
What is a story from one of your relationships that you are especially thankful for?
It can be just about anything. Like a time someone was especially kind to you. Or maybe something you learned from a person in your life. It could be something you observed in a crowd or in the company of strangers. Just about anything involving a relationship you’re grateful for would be fair game.
Just go to PodinBox.com/John to record your answer using your phone or computer. With your answer, please include your name and where you’re from. It’s that simple.
I’ll need your response by 5 pm Central time on November 16, 2022. Just go to PodinBox.com/John to record your answer. If something comes to mind right now, head over to PodinBox.com/John and give me a call.
I’ll pick several responses to air on our Thanksgiving episode. Who knows, it could be yours! And if so, it will look good on your resume.
In closing, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to put into practice what you’ve heard about finding joy in reflecting upon the last time you ever experienced something significant to you.
For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God designed for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s it for today. Come back next time for episode 183 and another relational part of life we can be thankful for this November in 2022, and every month and year thereafter.
If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link is JohnCertalic.com/182. Or scroll down to the bottom of the show notes for this episode and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.
And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.
Related episodes you may want to listen to
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021: The Most Important Relationship of All
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