With the Texas FFA state convention taking place in Dallas this past week, I couldn’t help but reflect on my time in the FFA. Time that went by extremely fast, but was filled with memories that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. As I graduated high school and my time in the FFA came to a close, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew is that I wanted to become one of the Texas FFA state officers. More specifically I wanted to become one of the two officers on the state travel team that took a year off from college and traveled the state visiting chapters and presenting leadership workshops. Spending a year making a deep impact in the youth of Texas, all the while giving back to an organization that gave me so much.
Before my senior year had begun, I developed a plan that would get me to this state officer position. I laid out long term and short term objectives to meet, did tons of research, basically doing everything in my power to best present myself in the selection process. I spent all of my senior years reading books, studying various materials, and watching how to videos to make me a better candidate. Not only better on paper, but also a better in practice. Maximizing my ability to lead and leave a positive influence.
Then the selection day in May came, the day that I had been training for all year. I was on stage waiting to hear my name as they announced the next state officer to represent the Area V Association. But my name was never called.
I’m not going to lie, that hit me hard. And it wasn’t until the area convention was over, when I took my jacket off for the last time did I really feel the loss. I was suddenly rushed with every emotion. Sadness that I was no longer an FFA member, that I could not travel the state and give back to the organization that gave me so much, that molded me into the man I am today. Anger that if I had only studied instead of watch that movie, or if I had only practiced my speech more, and remembered that one joke I forgot then the outcome could have been different. Fear that I had no idea what I was doing, my childhood home was being sold, my parents were moving across the ocean, and my college situation had not been decided. And happiness, happiness from the flood of memories, from the community of friends I had made, and happiness because I knew that Area V was in good hands because they had an amazing state officer nominee that had the same passion for the FFA and its members that I did. With all of these strong and conflicting emotions, the next few days were a little rough.
People would congratulate me on how well I did in the process saying that its a feat own its own to be a finalist for the position. But all I felt like was a failure. A failure that did not have any direction on what to do next.
But as time went on, I began to cope with all the changes and uncertainties in my life. I devised an on the fly, a plan for where I would go to school, and developed goals that were not rooted within the FFA. I began to understand and accept that God had a bigger plan for me, a plan that I could not see nor understand the day I didn’t receive the nomination I desired so deeply. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my (God’s) ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:12)
I began to realize that even though I wasn’t a state officer, that didn’t mean I couldn’t still make an impact on FFA members. Sure it wouldn’t be in the scope of if I were traveling the state, but sometimes it’s not about quantity as much as it is about quality. And the two years that have followed I have been able to apply the lessons that I learned in the FFA, the lessons I learned trying to get the state officer position, and the hard lessons I learned not getting the state officer position. I have been able to apply all of this and make an impact on my peers in college. Doing what I did in the FFA but in a different manner.
I could go on all day about how not being a state officer impacted my life positively and how I wish I could go back to lost and confused high school Thomas to let him know that it will be okay. That you will bounce back on your feet, have the freedom to do things that would not be possible if you were still tied down with FFA, and that God is working in your life for the better. All you have to do is keep being the person you are and living the way you live. Blue corduroy or not, it’s still the same you on the inside.
As much as it hurt at the time, I am thankful my plans were foiled, so that I had the opportunities to learn from my short comings, and learn from the things that took place because I was not a state officer.
If you are reading this and are coming out of a short coming or failure of your own, remember that it will get better and that even though it does not make sense now, God is working in your life. All you have to do is trust in him, and keep being the amazing person you are. Use that pain and sadness to become an better you, a stronger you, a wiser you.
As always, make good choices, share if you like what I said, comment if you have something to add, and I will see you on Tuesday.