Game Day

My daughter’s first sport was soccer. Once she got old enough to be out of the all the kids stand in a herd and kick each other, score on the wrong goal, bite it face-down stage, I absolutely loved game day.

She was one of the faster kids. If the action would break and everyone started moving down field she could run around the entire pack and beat the ball to the goal. I loved to see her turn the afterburners on. If she broke away she was unstoppable. Usually that meant that she would continue dribbling the ball straight out of bounds, but that’s not relevant to the story.

She was also one of the bigger kids  and could out muscle the other kids when she wanted to. She didn’t ever want to, but whatever.

She would usually let a defender have the ball out of kindness.

She would break away with the ball and then let other people catch up so they had a chance too.

She would kick the ball to the goalie. I think she thought it was the right thing to do, philosophically. I am sure she was moderately confused, too. I taught her to share every day of her life and then the first day of team sports I am screaming for her to take the ball away from someone else. It might appear contradictory.

When she did live up to her athletic potential, she would score multiple goals. She would push other kids to the ground and then stomp on their Achilles tendon exactly like I taught her to do. Lighten up, I’m kidding..

She was a little kid, she didn’t have a killer instinct and she didn’t really care one way or another. She only really cared about the color of Gatorade and the snack. I didn’t care either. A near miss was just as exciting as a goal.Whether she scored three goals or none, I didn’t love her any less. I didn’t feel any differently about her.

Soccer gave way to volleyball. I am just as jazzed for game day. She’s older now. She gets pissed if she plays bad. She gets really pissed if her team plays bad. She has fire in her belly now and I love it.

We spend a lot of time yelling at each other in the front yard practicing her overhand serve.

Sometimes in the game she serves five points in a row.

Sometimes she misses completely and doesn’t make it over the net.

Either way I think she is amazing. Watching her learn grace in victory and develop character in defeat, both give me wings. A long volley between teams gets me up on my feet cheering. I am as mesmerized with her if she ends a volley by smashing it in some girls face or takes one to her own face. Relax! I’m Kidding! It’s hyperbole!

Now we are playing golf together. She wants to go to the range every day. She wants to go to the course every other day. On our last session, I taught her to take a divot in front of the ball. The look on her face was priceless the first time she did. The ball exploded off the face of that 9 iron with the proper trajectory and distance. When it was done rolling it went 100 yards. I was so happy for her. I was so proud. My little golf buddy is developing right in front of me.

Her next shot was a worm burner. She had the taste of glory that is a good golf shot. She heard the click; anything less now, would not be acceptable. She went through the rest of that bucket of balls trying to figure out what she was doing wrong. I am proud at the perfect divot she took and I am proud of the way failure made her dig in her heels until she got it right again.

Every evening when I say my night-night prayers, I wonder how a sinner of my caliber is allowed the blessings I am given. I wonder why I am allowed to lead people at work and supervise and train counselors. I wonder why I am allowed to sing for kids in a church. I wonder why I am allowed to be trusted enough in people’s lives to help them as a therapist. I wonder why I am honored enough to be put in kingdom significant situations. I have never really been hungry a day in my life. I have a house, a car, a family. My wife is smoking hot and my kid is some kind of brilliant, magical little creature.

If each blessing was a feather, I would be crushed under the weight. It is often confusing to me. I feel so unworthy and ill-equipped. I feel like because I am prone to such large lapses in Christ-like behavior, that I don’t deserve anything. Sometimes I think I am waiting for it all to go south because I don’t deserve it. I lay in bed thinking that tomorrow it will all catch up to me.

This story is a little long in the tooth to say the point of this isn’t to talk about me and my kid. For one, that’s what Facebook is for. For two, I have a point here.

I am sorry about the Facebook thing; I like to dig at folks. I’ll talk to Jesus about it later, I promise.

It occurred to me all at once. Maybe God sees me like I see my daughter. Maybe he loves to see me fulfill my potential, but no more than when he sees me totally being a turd. Maybe he puts me in the big game even though all I am interested in is the Gatorade and snack. Maybe He thinks that I am amazing. He might be on the edge of his seat, too. Maybe I am a five year old with a sh#t-load of potential, heading up the sideline, only to dribble the ball out of bounds. Maybe that’s okay because he just wants to see me run. For a second, I think I have a glimpse of how and why He loves me, but it is fleeting.


5 thoughts on “Game Day

  1. You answered yourself – I think God loves you whether you score another Christ-like deed or not. (S)he just likes watching you on the field – like you do your daughter. It’s easy to say though, and it’s easy to see how others deserve stuff we deny ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing the doubts, vulnerability is the hardest thing. Maybe this is how you deserve what you get: because you notice and you are grateful. Although I don’t really think any of us needs to DO anything to be loved. Flowers don’t – why should we?

  2. i really liked the bit about your daughter giving the ball to the goalie because she wanted to share. My daughter used to lend me money when we played Monopoly because she didn’t want me to lose.

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