Dribble, shoot, reflect and believe

By Brenda Hopf

Connecting Faith and Life

One afternoon, feeling lost and sad, I walked into our garage and my eyes were drawn to a basketball on a shelf. I grabbed it, headed out to the basketball goal and began to dribble, shoot and reflect on how God has touched my life through this simple, ordinary object.

I recalled that my first “basketball God moment” came at a time when I was filled with anxiety about attending a new school as a sixth grader. The school had a gymnasium. It was there that I fell in love with the game of basketball. I could interact with others without having to be too social and it was also the perfect activity for an introvert to play alone. I begged Dad to put up a goal at home and he complied. One of my brothers and I spent as much of our free time as we could shooting hoops. While the competition was fierce at times, these fond memories give me a sense of peace now that he is no longer with us, having taken his own life at the age of 23.

My love for basketball continued into my high school years, and I longed to play on an organized team. Locally, high school girls’ basketball was just getting started. Finally, in my junior year, the high school I attended formed their first girls high school varsity team. Another girl named Brenda, who was a senior, also made the team. She became my good friend. We discovered that before we were born, our mothers had worked together and, in fact, as my friend was born first, my mom decided she really liked the name Brenda and the rest is history. After high school, our friendship continued. She introduced me to her boyfriend’s brother. Long story short, he is now my husband. Among the blessings of that union are two beautiful daughters and two grandchildren. Brenda and I are still good friends, as well as sisters-in-law.

Several years down the road, by the grace of God, I had the good fortune to coach basketball for both of our daughters in grade school. As an added blessing, the last two years that I coached, one of my younger sisters was my assistant. At that time, I felt a strong calling to share my faith through coaching. My sister and I did a number of things to help the girls we coached to learn valuable life lessons. Seven years ago, at the age of 43, this sister had a brain bleed near her brainstem that has had a catastrophic impact on her quality of life. She now resides in a nursing home. I treasure the time I spent coaching with her, especially the effort we made to quietly share our faith with the girls on our teams. Today, she is an inspiration to me as she endures her own daily struggles.

I continued to reflect as I dribbled and shot and I realized that once again God’s grace was working through my love of basketball. Having some struggles of my own at this time and searching for answers, I had instinctively grabbed the basketball and began reflecting on how God has worked through this simple, ordinary object in the past. I began to sense a feeling of peace and hope. God opened my eyes to the times he as graced me with his direction and strength. Faith tells me the same will happen with my current situation.

When it comes to bearing crosses and counting blessings, I am no different than anyone else. If you and I open our minds and hearts, God’s presence becomes apparent through the happenings of everyday life. If we strive to do the ordinary things of life with God and for God, we open ourselves to discover the holy and divine.

Our God is all-powerful and knows us better than we know ourselves. It is the world of eternal life that we strive to attain and God can and will use the ordinary things of this world to get us there — even something as simple as a basketball.

Dribble, shoot, reflect and believe.

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish.