Boys, Basketballs and Building a Gym
By Melanie Chitwood

A year ago my husband Scott told me that he wanted to pursue his passion of coaching youth sports. He was already coaching for our community teams, so I thought this might involve more coaching on the weekends. I can remember thinking: If that’s where Scott feels God leading him, then I’ll support him.

While I pictured Scott coaching during his free time, Scott’s dreams surpassed anything I could imagine. When he told me he wanted to build a basketball gym, all I could think of was a slight variation on the line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” If you build it, they will come. I shared this thought with Scott, while laughing at my cleverness and his crazy idea. When he didn’t laugh along with me, however, I soon realized that he was completely serious. So we started seriously praying and seeking God’s will. After months of prayer and preparation, we’ll open Carolina Courts, an indoor gym with five basketball/volleyball courts, at the end of this year.

When Scott first shared with me the dream God was planting in his heart, I should have known immediately that this dream wasn’t going away. Scott’s dreams are almost always big dreams, for that’s how God has wired him. And while this adventuresome spirit is one of the most attractive qualities of Scott, it’s also one of the most challenging ones to me.

You see, I am a woman who is not adventuresome. I don’t really like to be stretched or to step out of my comfort zone. I like to get life all figured out and settle in for some predictability. At heart, I like to be in control. However, God has used countless situations, especially those in my marriage, to help me become the woman He wants me to be, a woman surrendered to His plans.

God gave me opportunities early in our marriage to learn to surrender to His plans. When we first married, we prayed about Scott leaving the teaching world to pursue one of his passions of being a pilot. After many years of teaching high schoolers while pursuing his pilot’s license on the side, Scott became a pilot flying for US Airways. We moved to Charlotte for Scott to start this dream job, and for the first time I got to be a stay-at-home mom to my two young sons, Tyler and Zachary.

At first, the initial newness of everything fueled my happiness. Before long, however, reality set in and I didn’t handle that reality very well. My pilot husband traveled days and nights in a row, leaving me and two little ones in a city where I knew no one. The days were long and I was lonely.

I complained to God, to Scott, and anyone else who would listen. I told God over and over that my situation was too hard, that I wanted a partner, and that I hated being alone so much. I told Him I had dreams, too. How could I pursue them when all my energy and time was devoted to the home front?

Life wasn’t turning out the way I had expected, and I was resentful. In a nutshell, I was uncomfortable and felt powerless to make anything change. After all, Scott was a pilot, he’d be away, and there wasn’t really anything I could do to change that. I felt completely out of control.

I wish I could say that I quickly turned to God, that after a few months I learned to trust Him and His plans. But I didn’t. I complained and resisted my circumstances for years. About eight years into our marriage, I just became absolutely weary with our strife-filled marriage. I was desperate for our marriage to be one that reflected God’s peace, joy, and intimacy. Also, I did not want our two sons to grow up in a home of turmoil.

When I reached the end of trying to orchestrate my own life, I finally turned to God and asked Him, What do You want me to do? I am desperate for You. As I continued to pray and to read Scripture, the words of a familiar passage seemed to leap off the page and into my heart. It was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (NASB). As I continued praying, crying, and confessing my sin, I surrendered: Lord, I’m ready to let You truly be in control of my life. I’m surrendering to You, Lord. I’m trusting You.

Since that day, I’ve had many more opportunities to surrender to God’s plans for me, and to embrace situations which haven’t been what I would have chosen or expected. Scott lost his job after only two years of flying and was out of work for six months. We had to sell our home, a home that I considered my dream home. Though I was disappointed, I was able to trust God’s plans, and not fear the future.

As our sons have gotten older, their lives have centered on boy things. Every corner of my home is filled with basketballs or Legos. This is not what I had imagined for my life; I grew up loving Barbie dolls, books, and the color pink. Again, I know the life I would have planned for myself would have been a very me-centered life; one that would not have stretched me or caused me to live in daily dependence on God. I can honestly say that I love this basketball and boy world and wouldn’t want my life to be any other way.

Since that day of surrender, I’ve also seen my dreams of writing come true. The first book I wrote is “What a Husband Needs from His Wife. If anyone had told me years ago that I would write a marriage book, I would have laughed heartily. For so long I wrestled between telling God how to change my husband and asking God what kind of wife he wanted me to be. Now I see that all that learning was part of his plans for me, much better plans that I could ever have orchestrated myself.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned repeatedly in my journey with God is the lesson of surrender, and as I have, my heart’s desire has changed. More than reaching a specific goal or making sure my plans get carried out, the desire of my heart is to know the Lord more intimately each day of my life. Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart”(NASB). I’ve learned to hold tightly to the Lord instead of my own ways. When I’m in that place where the Lord is my delight, it’s a place of surrender to the plans God has for me.

As our family is preparing for our new adventure with Carolina Courts, the surrender to God’s plans comes more easily and quickly. I’m able to pray: Lord, I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, but I’m sure of You. I’m trusting You. Lord, if You build it, they will come.

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