Sitting here in the airport in Amsterdam while waiting for my connecting flight to Atlanta, I am surprisingly calm. Our season in the Dansk Volley Ligaen was cut short before we were able to compete in the semi-final for the first time in Nordenskov UIF’s history. We were ranked 2nd going into the finals of the league and knocked out our quarter-final opponent, Aalborg, in two matches for the best of three series. The morning of our first match of the semi-final series, it was announced that we would not be playing our match and all training and matches were canceled for the rest of March. All matches were said to be postponed until the “Corona Crisis” is under control. That was announced last Thursday, March 12th. This pandemic has been reaching its large arm through all aspects of our lives, and before the federation even completely canceled Ligaen Finals, we were told by our club that we should get home before all borders close. That was Monday, March 16th. So, here I am on Thursday, March 19th, in an airport with people keeping their distance and wearing masks and gloves. We were awarded with the silver medal of the league final. It is a HUGE milestone for the club, and I feel honored to have been part of it, despite the Corona crisis ending the season sooner than expected. What a wild year this has been so far for the world, but oddly, I feel possibly the most at peace that I have felt since childhood (when my biggest concern was which Power Puff Girl to be or which olympic volleyball player I would practice playing like). This sense of calm, I hope, comes from this past year of reflection, healing, and self-improvement. I graduated college last May with a lot of baggage, and I am not being dramatic when I say, “too much for me to carry”, alone at least. My God came through in some big ways for me last year. I found a connection to Him that is deeper than I have ever experienced before. He also provided me with the most amazing support system of family and friends anyone could ask for. He sent opportunities my way that came just at the right time. After my graduation, I felt an overwhelming need to prove to all those that loved and supported me, and that I loved and supported, that I would not always be that way. I would not always be so broken, angry, and selfish. I could change, Lord willing, I would.
If you read my blog post when I first came to Denmark, you know the story of me deciding to take a season off from playing volleyball (putting a hold, possibly permanently, on my childhood dream of professional volleyball). And then, God came through with an awesome opportunity that completely took me off guard. I felt it was too soon to go on like everything was fine and live out that dream. I felt I still needed to prove that I was going to be okay to my family and friends, that I was not going to collapse under the pressure of life post-college like I did when I was in college. My family and friends felt differently, or at least they made me think they did, and told me to go. So, I did.
The last five or so months in Denmark have been so much easier than I thought. The concerns I had about language, loneliness, cultural differences, and prejudices melted away within a week of being at the house in Nordenskov, Denmark. My Aussie and American housemates: Jordan, Malachi, Tom, Brendan, and Will, immediately welcomed me into their lives in the Danish countryside, and for that I am very grateful. I have struggled with male friendship since I was a child. For whatever reason, I struggle to enjoy the same interests and motivations of many of the men that I have encountered in life, and that has caused anywhere from awkwardness all the way to hostile negative interactions and relationships with other guys. But these guys (and the rest of the team) that I called friends for the last half year, approached me with such kindness and inclusivity. It’s enough to bring a tear to my eye (hard to do, usually). So, thank you so much guys! Also, sorry for my compulsive cleaning standards, forcing you to watch TV shows you would otherwise never choose to watch, and my obnoxious, ever-changing laughter and singing. To my Danish and Norwegian teammates, thank you for the help with my Danish, answering all of my annoying questions, and being so welcoming to me coming in half-way through your season. I consider you all to be good friends who I hope to see again. Our club managers, sponsors, and coaching staff were so supportive and took care of all of us all so well. From the logistics of bringing us foreigners over and making sure we had everything we needed to showing us a good time, Nordenskov UIF took care of us in every way. I know other players who have not had this experience when coming overseas. And so, to be a part of this club feels special, even lucky.
And last, but not least, I want to thank the women’s teams in the club that I was able to coach. Throughout my life, I have been blessed with female friendships filled with support and encouragement. Every one of these women (it would be a very long list if I mentioned everyone by name) was a pleasure to get to know and coach. You guys helped me with my Danish and converting things to meters (LOL), and were just an absolute joy to coach. My only regret is not getting a picture with the team before the abrupt ending of our season. Specifically, I want to thank Pia, Line, and Morten. You guys became my danish family while I was here. It was truly special for you to open your home to me the way you did. Thank you for all the delicious food, desserts, laughs, pottery, and games!
So, in closing this chapter, I basically just have a lot of gratitude. I have learned through this experience to have patience in God’s timing, to think before I speak, and that there are more important things than getting what I want (or might think that I want). While learning these things, I feel even more aware that I need to grow in them still. My perspective has to continue to shift to the process of maturity, not only mentally and interpersonally, but spiritually.
Take care of yourself. Not for your own sake, but for the sake of the people that count on you. Because after this life passes away, all we will have are the relationships we nurtured with others and with our God. Thank you Denmark for this adventure. I can not wait to see what is next. I am not closing the door fully, because, who knows? I might return to Viking country.