I watched in almost disbelief last night when Tony Romo, quarterback of my beloved Dallas Cowboys, suffered a fractured collar bone. It's the kind of injury that disheartens teams and fans. When your leader goes down, it knocks the breath out of you. It feels like someone punched you in the gut.
Yet, I have found in life, one has a choice in responding to such occurrences. One can stand around, befuddled and say, "What are/am we/I ever going to do now? How can we/I ever go on?" Or one can meet the challenge by stepping up, in this case, one's own play--by becoming better, by becoming more focused, by reaching deep within to overcome adversity.
Sadly, last night, my 'boys seemed to choose the first option. The offense became ultra-conservative when the back up quarterback began taking snaps. The defense continued to look like a sieve. Instead of stepping it up, it looked like the team panicked, became rudderless, and had no desire to even try and overcome the loss of their leader.
I'd argue, they had no "ganas."
I grew up in a little town in deep South Texas called Odem. The town was and is predominantly Hispanic, and it was there that I first learned about the term "ganas." It can be loosely translated "desire" or "motivation sufficient to act", but as with many translations from the original language, such translations don't quite capture the fullness of the word.
Perhaps a little better understanding is "heart", in the sense of knowing what one is supposed to do and deeply desiring to accomplish that task. Perhaps you have known someone who is so deeply driven to accomplish a goal, a task, nothing will stand in their way. They will work through obstacle after obstacle after obstacle to reach the finish line. They will not gripe, moan or complain. They will play through the pain. They will fight the fires of hell with a bucket if those fires are standing between them and their goal.
Sadly, the Cowboys didn't have it. Whatever fire they might have had at the beginning of the game ended when Tony Romo headed for the locker room.
The commentators noticed the shift in the Cowboy's offensive philosophy even commenting it had become far too conservative. Then John Gruden, former coach of the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers said something very interesting. I'll probably miss a few words, but this was the gist:
"I talked to Jason Garrett [offensive coordinator for the Cowboys] and I asked him what he would do if he had to play Jon Kitna [backup quarterback]. He told me he draws on his experience as a backup quarterback. He said if he was forced to go in and execute the game plan, it was very difficult for him, so he sticks with what is comfortable for the back up. When he did what was comfortable, it became a little easier for him."
I am sorry to say this, but comfort never won any football games. Doing what is comfortable never helped anyone overcome tragedy. Doing what is comfortable never helped anyone climb a mountain. Doing what is comfortable never helped anyone grow physically, mentally, or spiritually.
If you have "ganas", you won't allow yourself to be comfortable. You will go above and beyond to meet the challenge of reaching your goal.
The Cowboys chose to be comfortable. No "ganas."
It is unfortunate because I believe much of our society and our church is geared toward comfort. Before us are many, many challenges, yet instead of growing; instead of urging responsibility for our actions; instead of encouraging folks to take risks, we want to make folks comfortable. We don't want anyone to have to struggle to overcome obstacles. We want to make it easy on people.
Newsflash: life isn't always easy. It is a bed of roses: thorns and all. Do you have the "ganas" to face it?
I ask such a question in light of the faith I am called to proclaim. As a Christian, I have been instructed by Jesus to make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He commanded. Further, He has called the church to be witnesses to the love and grace of God. Such a calling is not easy. There are many obstacles which lie in that path--from a nation which has tried to decrease the role of faith in the public square, to individuals taking offense at one's faith, to the threat of losing funding and decreased giving if one speaks the truth. BUT DO YOU HAVE THE "GANAS"?!!!
Do you have the heart to do what you are called to do? Do you have the "ganas" to share God's love even if it means offending others? Or do you want to be comfortable?