My “Lose Yourself” story:
Rapper, hip hop artist, and songwriter Eminem will soon take the stage during the Super Bowl 56 halftime show in Los Angeles on February 13th. I have not remained current on any of Eminem’s music over the last decade, but I will always remember one of his hit singles from my childhood. The song, Lose Yourself, is in many ways an anecdote to Eminem’s own journey from growing up in a trailer park in Detroit, Michigan, to becoming a hip hop superstar.
Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:
If you had
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime
I’m the furthest thing from being a “rapper”, but for some reason, those lyrics have always grabbed me. The idea of being able to completely “lose yourself”. Being able to become part of something larger than your current reality. For the artist of this song, it was losing himself and his rough upbringing in stardom as a global performer.
As I reflect back on high school, I remember striving ever so hard to “lose myself” in basketball. There was no one who wanted to become a better basketball player than me. I was willing to work harder and longer than anyone else so that I would be known as a great basketball player.
When given the opportunity to select a custom engraving for my first ever iPod, I chose the words “Work harder damn’t!!” to serve as a constant reminder to never allow anyone to outwork me. Unfortunately, genetics never quite allowed for that dream to pan out.
But then less than a year into college I found myself dreaming about “losing myself” in my pursuit of working in the sports industry. I will never forget an evening I had back home with my dad watching an episode of “Big Ten Basketball: The Journey”. It provided a behind-the-scenes look into the life of the Minnesota Gophers Men’s Basketball program. I had already decided I was transferring to the University of Minnesota that next fall.
I told my dad how incredible it would be if I could become a student manager for Gophers Basketball, or maybe even Football if I got really lucky. It was halfway through my freshman year, and I was desperately desiring a reason to be done with the partying and drinking that was consuming several nights of my week. I thought IF I could just “lose myself” in being part of a Division 1 college athletics program, then surely I would have enough reason to quit this life that I knew was wrong.
If this happened, I would finally have an excuse to say no when friends asked me to drink because I was certain that my schedule would be too busy to allow for such foolishness. I was also certain that the opportunities that this would open for my career in the sports industry would fill me with such joy and peace that I would no longer have the constant urge to self-medicate my depression and anxiety with alcohol. This opportunity to “lose myself” would surely change everything for me…
Fast forward to my first semester at the University of Minnesota that next Fall. I didn’t end up getting hired on with Gophers Men’s Basketball but ended up landing a student manager position with the Gophers Football program the very last week of Fall camp. It was just in time for the first game of the season. I grew up a huge Gophers Football fan, and I was now aspiring for a career in the sports industry.
This was an absolute dream come true. I was working with the coaches and athletes I watched on TV only the year prior. And wow did this job have perks! Free tickets for my family to go to every game, more Nike gear than I could ever wear, use of the team training facilities, unlimited energy drinks and Coca-Cola products, and of course, I was now on the sidelines, a part of the action every Saturday.
Growing up in a town with a population of 53 people, I never dreamed that one day I may be a part of all of it. I had never seen anything like the police escort that our team busses would receive to or from our chartered flights. At the end of the season, we were able to spend an entire week at a resort wherever our Bowl Game was. It happened to be in Arizona both of my years with Gophers Football, so a getaway from MN in December was no small perk.
We even started out my first season with one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history with a record of 7-1. And did I mention I got paid? On top of all of this, I genuinely enjoyed my boss and everyone I was working with. Many of them became my best friends over the next few years. In a nutshell, that job ended up being even better than I could have dreamed. Surely “losing myself” in this opportunity would finally help me find peace and joy.
But it didn’t.
I will never forget how hard it hit me, a week into that job when I realized I was “living my dream” on the outside, but I was still just as anxious and depressed as I was before. I quickly found myself immersed in the coping mechanisms that got me through my freshman year.
Alcohol. Women. Partying.
It didn’t matter that this job was actually better than I ever imagined it could be. By all of my own measures externally, I was at the top. Internally, I was more depressed and confused than ever, and even suicidal.
I would go on to “lose myself” many more times:
- NFL Training Camp Internship with the Arizona Cardinals
- NFL Training Camp Internship with the then “San Diego” Chargers
- Opportunity to work for Tubby Smith and Gophers Men’s Basketball my Senior year.
- A position working for Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech Football
Each of these opportunities greatly exceeded my expectations in terms of perks and the “status” that seemed to accompany them, but they did nothing but make me even more confused about why I was so miserable. At least when I was a freshman I had the “hope” that things were going to be better when _____ happened.
It was by no means any sort of pinnacle of success but in terms of what I had previously dreamed, my life was exceeding expectations. My point in all of this is that I had finally found what I had always dreamed would satisfy. Maybe you can relate.
Have you been certain that a promotion would change everything for your family. Or, that becoming a parent or spouse would finally give you the purpose you longed for. Maybe it was the promising new career pursuing something you felt passionate about. Regardless of the “dream”, can relate that when achieving a goal, it made it harder to remain hopeful that you would find the joy and peace you were desperately desiring?
Consider these words from Tom Brady, who I think many would imagine having a life worth losing yourself in. Supermodel wife. Incredible wealth. He retired this past week with arguably the most impressive career of any athlete of all time. Back in 2005, he had these words to share on 60 minutes:
BRADY: …there’s times where I’m not the person that I want to be. Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. I mean I’ve done it. I’m 27. And what else is there for me?
Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes: What’s the answer?
BRADY: I wish I knew. I wish I knew…
Throughout all of my struggles, I was still going to church. I had grown up going to church every Sunday, and I made certain that I continued to do so when I went off on my own. It didn’t matter what I had done the night before or where I had passed out, I made sure that I was at church each Sunday.
By God’s grace, nearly 10 years ago, I started to realize that every time I sought to “lose myself”, I was really searching for purpose. I longed to be part of something that would give my life meaning. Being a great athlete. Having a successful career in the sports industry. It wasn’t until I attained one of these items that I realized it failed to fill the hole I was experiencing in my heart.
This revelation in my life helped me realize that as a created being, I do not determine my purpose. In fact, it is actually determined by my Creator (God).
Isaiah 45:9 states "Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles?
Jesus says in Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Slowly, but surely I discovered that “to lose yourself” is actually exactly what Jesus invites us into. And it’s a beautiful thing!
Jesus exemplified what it means to “lose yourself” by first laying down His own life. He invites us to do the same. We have the opportunity to go from living for something that is perishable and that has a 100% chance of coming to an end (death), or, living for something that is imperishable (eternity with God).
We can certainly seek to “lose ourselves” in many things here on earth. Jesus makes it clear that all of these things will never truly satisfy us.
In John 4:13-14 Jesus shares with the woman at the well that “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”
My life has certainly not become ‘perfect’ or ‘easy’ since I’ve decided to “lose myself” in following Jesus. I even have moments where I find myself straying from Jesus throughout the day. But, I couldn’t be more thankful that God continuously reminds me of His love for me, and has given me peace and a purpose that transcends this earthly life.
If you’re interested in learning more about what it looks like to “Lose Yourself” in Jesus, I encourage you to prayerfully consider joining any of our upcoming USG Academy groups!
If you'd like to talk about your "losing yourself" experiences, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.