I found a business card on the floor of the French Fieldhouse. It was for Mona Najib, with Athletes in Action. I had already come to a conclusion that if I was going to make it onto the rowing team at OSU, and then remain a member, it was going to be a result of divine intervention. That discarded paper was one of the many divine serendipities.
I learned the partnership of sport and faith alongside Mona. Today it’s not unlike my partnership of entrepreneurship and faith. She watered my blooming discovery of the Bible. She would ask hard questions, wouldn’t offer easy answers, and steered away from obnoxious platitudes.
I now see she had grit and insight into humanity few allow themselves when working in ministry. She was vulnerable and so funny. She didn’t hold the party line on a conservative organization that dictated lots of black and white in a world full of gray. The emotional space she created to wrestle through questions with biblical evidence…about God, my heart, scripture itself….would be a model for me to continue wrestling with God through the gray even to this day.
I learned quite a few obnoxious platitudes and spent many of my college years knowing everything, which turned out to oppress all the people I thought I was helping. But I never picked up those habits from Mona. She was sarcastic, prone to cynicism, and could be worked into a giggle that couldn’t be reined in. She was honest and messy, not pushing others down to build herself up. And she had perfected her chocolate chip cookies recipe.
Now I know how little I know. It’s not my job to oppress either. And chocolate chip cookies are my favorite.