As a huge college basketball fan, this week around ESPN is a special one every year. Affectionately known as “Jimmy V Week“, there will be games & events to honor the memory of Jim Valvano & to raise money for the cancer research foundation that bears his name.
If you’re not familiar with Jim Valvano, here’s the short version: Valvano was a highly successful basketball coach at several universities, most notably North Carolina State, where he won the NCAA championship in 1983. Loud, funny and gregarious, he was well-loved by fans and peers as a man that lived life with joy and laughter. He’s best remembered for running around the court desperately searching for someone to hug after a buzzer-beater won the championship. (pictured above)
But in 1992, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. It soon metastasized throughout his body. The hope of a long life suddenly ripped away at 46 years old, many wondered how Valvano would approach what appeared to be his last days.
How does a person react when hope is taken away?
Take a look at his famous speech at the 1993 ESPY awards and you will know:
“If you laugh, you think and you cry – that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that 7 days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
So often our hope resides in some far off future. So when the road ahead isn’t clear and marked out for us, our hope tends to fade. Hope in the future can easily become worry and anxiousness when things go wrong.
But hope is just as much about now as it is about then. Or like Trevor said: “Hope is living in a house with boxes.”
Staring death in the face, Valvano found hope in laughing, crying and thinking each day. Unsure about the future, his hope was for just one more full, meaningful day.
Because hope isn’t all about tomorrow. It’s about what I can do to infuse today with meaning and purpose and beauty. To drag hope from a far off future into the next moment, the next conversation, the next endeavor.
So today may you laugh, think and be moved to tears. May you “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” May you find hope in the moment even if you are unsure or anxious about the future.
May you have a today kind of hope.