During my senior year of high school, after losing in the first round of the double elimination sectional tournament for wrestling, the head coach, Ron Alexander, took me out into the hallway outside the gym and laid into me.
I don't remember what he said outside of that he was disappointed in me and my effort. For the first time in my short two season wrestling career, I was seeded in the tournament and therefore expected to advance to districts. Instead, I lost in the first round to someone who should not have beaten me. Coach Al, as he was affectionately known, had up until this point only ever encouraged me, supported me, and affirmed me. This was the first time he expressed disappointment in me. It was the first time that he ever yelled, let alone yelled at me.
As I said, I don't remember all that he said. But, I remember that I felt awful.
I also remember that he believed that I should have won that match, even if I didn't.
Entering the "loser's bracket", I won the rest of my matches that day, claiming third place - higher than I had been seeded - and advancing to the district tournament.
I have been blessed to have had a handful of other such conversations throughout my life. I have been blessed to have had a handful of other voices crying out in the various deserts I have traversed.
Advent is a time to listen to the voices, like Coach Alexander's, of those crying out to us to repent, reform, start again, and prepare the way of the Lord.
We were made for more.