A little over a year ago, I texted a girl not knowing if she would respond and/or want to talk to me.
The perfect storm kinda happened, and I shot my shot on the girl with whom I now hold hands and eat dinner and take pictures and go to concerts. I didn’t know if she would like me back or anything. I’ve known her family for a long time, and I’ve known about her for about 8 years. I just got the feeling I should try to make a move and see what happened. As it turns out, she’s absolutely a 36/10 in every category. I’ve chosen to try and date a girl, presumably in order to marry her eventually, at literally the busiest point in my life there has ever been. Ever.
I chose to play college football instead of going to school to be a regular student. I have to get up early a lot. I’m not allowed to take certain classes or go home whenever I want to. I’ve got other people who call a lot of my shots for me. I run. I lift weights. I hurt a lot. I cram a lot of things in one day. I lose out on some free time. But I’ve lost 50 pounds almost. I’ve made lifelong friends. I’ve been a part of Christ’s plan for some of my teammates’ lives. I’ve laughed a lot. I’ve seen some strides made for myself and my own capabilities. I’ve played on TV. I’ve gotten the shoes and the bookbags and the plane rides. Ultimately, I’ve learned the true value of doing things for other people. I’ve put in a lot, but I’ve also gotten a ton out.
I saw a kid eating dinner alone at the beginning of the year. He was eating alone every single night, between 7:30 and 8. Why is that significant? It’s significant because our dining hall closes at 8. And no one is in there much past 7. I can’t guarantee this, and I wouldn’t ever ask him, but I assume he— let’s call him Adam, though that’s not his real name— was eating late in order to avoid the social pressure of the dining hall. He’s a small kid. He’s very quiet. A teammate of mine, Joe Christian (absolutely hilarious, might I add) finally mentioned one night, “Yo, Coop. Do you see that kid? He’s always eating by himself. I feel bad for him.” I felt the same way. And then it hit me.
Well, why don’t you go sit with him, Cooper?
Me? No. Come on, now. Don’t be ridiculous. What if he’s annoying? What if he’s kind of strange? I don’t want to do that. I just want to eat dinner and leave.
You should go sit with him.
That’s when I realized: this is a classic “WWJD” moment. This was a moment where I had two options. I could choose the Cross and sit with him, or I could choose the world and enjoy my grilled chicken salad with my teammates. I made my decision. I told Joe, “I’m going to go sit with him.” And so I did.
Let’s fast forward to March 20, 2019.
Adam walks into the cafeteria, high-fives two people, and he’s grinning from ear to ear. Some girls at a table call his name, and he goes to talk to them for about 5 minutes. Then, as he’s going to grab something to eat, two guys from the football team stop him and talk to him. He gets his food, and he comes to sit with me, which is our usual dinner routine 4-5 days out of the week. We’re talking, hanging out. 3 or 4 people walk by: “Yo, what’s up, man?” to Adam. The kid has become a legend. He’s brilliant. He’s absolutely hilarious. He works really hard. He wants to go to Pharmacy school. I love the kid to death. He’s talking more. He’s walking taller. He eats dinner whenever he wants to now because in September he had seemingly 0 friends. Now, he’s got more than just about anyone. I’m not trying to gas myself up when I talk about Adam. I watched him eat dinner alone for over two weeks before I was man enough to go sit with him. And I went begrudgingly. I went to sit with him knowing I almost had to because it was the right thing to do. Now, Adam is a campus legend. He’s smiling a lot bigger. And he’s even going to be my roomie next year. I didn’t want to go sit with him. I didn’t want to commit to spending time with someone who appeared to be “the least of these.” But Christ pulling on my heart made me walk over there. I sat down to eat with him. Now, he’s living his best life.
I prayed for him. I told people about him. And as surely as the sun rises and the Son rose, Adam is never going to eat dinner alone. Newsflash– when you pray to the Lord for other people, He actually listens. I prayed over and over for Adam to find his place at school, to get some more friends around him, to open up. And he did. I can’t take credit for it at all. I refuse. My great friends and classmates responded to the call. I just made the petition. I had to take a massive humility pill, and I’m still trying to swallow it.
Why am I writing this? I’m writing this because I’m a firm believer that Christ is who He says He is. I’m writing this so you take notes on how not to act. I’m also a sinner who acted like a chump for almost 3 weeks because I didn’t want to sacrifice for (who turned out to be) a fellow brother in Christ— unacceptable. I’m also a firm believer that no one should ever eat dinner alone. Call yourself a Christian. Go ahead. I do because I am one. But if you watch people eat dinner alone (which is both literal and figurative, by the way), then you aren’t owning up to that title. Plain and simple.
“Adam,” if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I didn’t want to eat dinner with you on that September night. I was judging you. And I should not have. For that, I’m regretful, and I’m sorry. I confess that I reflected Cooper and not Christ. And Cooper sucks. But, nevertheless, I chose to eat with you. And here we are: fellow laborers, future roomies, dinner buddies, and guaranteed lifelong friends.