My older daughter plays soccer for her school. Despite my self-image as a definitely un-soccer-mom-ish person, I sat through a game on Saturday morning and learned a few things.
- The goal has to be anchored to the ground.
The ref walked onto the field, ten minutes before the start time, and tugged on the goal post. It wobbled. The ref (a bellowing, barking sort of guy) told the team coach, “No anchors, no game.”
It’s a safety thing. The ground is unyielding; by comparison, the goal posts are flimsy. They may look stable, but if enough force is applied, the entire structure might fall and hurt someone. The posts need those anchors to keep them standing no matter what happens.
I may look stable from the outside, but am I anchored to something—or someone—who is always firm and unshakable?
- Rest and water breaks are vital.
At 9 a.m., the heat was unrelenting. The goalies were wearing long-sleeved shirts and gloves. Our team’s goalie traded the long sleeves for a jersey and penny. We had a substitute for the goalie, and the players—particularly the offense—traded positions so no one had to play the entire game. Still, the girls needed frequent water breaks. (The ref was merciful and allowed this.)
The other team had one less player, so everyone had to play the entire game. I watched their goalie struggle. We were concerned that she might pass out or vomit; we were closer to her goal, so we saw her distress more clearly than her coaches did.
At one point, she begged for a water break. Her coach told her that she was getting a break, standing in the goal while the other players ran around the field. (Ouch.) But she was still wearing the long sleeved shirt and gloves.
She needed a break.
(In the end, the ref allowed the teams to play 7 on 7, rather than the required 8 on 8, to give her the chance to rest.)
Everyone need a break. Some people seem to suffer onslaught after onslaught of horrible things. Or, sometimes their lives have one giant thing that affects their entire existence.
(I think of a fellow church member who has a teenage son with severe special needs. He’s sweet, but very energetic and needs 24/7 hands-on care. She admitted that it takes a toll on she and her husband, the boy’s stepfather, because they can’t come to church together; one has to stay home and care for the boy. Life is exhausting.)
Some others seem to have relatively easier lives, but suffer from debilitating conditions inside themselves. (Think of someone who has fibromyalgia. She may look physically well but is in chronic pain. Life is a struggle.)
And a few others have easier lives, though not without the usual ups and downs.
What we all have in common is this: we need refreshment and we need rest. We also need each other to help provide that refreshment and rest. My church friend needs trained nurses to help with her son. A woman with fibromyalgia may need someone to bring a meal. We all need others who will speak truth and demonstrate love to us.
- Teamwork is vital.
Don’t just kick the ball away from the opponent, kick it to someone else on your team. In other words, delegate to trustworthy people; find wise people for counsel. Easier said than done.
- When the ball comes close to the line, the players have a choice.
What’s the best decision depends on perspective. There were several times during the game that I, a spectator, believed a ball was out-of-bounds.
Sometimes it was. The players let it roll over the line, or sometimes they kicked it over themselves rather than allowing the other team to score.
It’s like admitting defeat in the pursuit of a particular goal. But knowing when this is right takes wisdom. Is that goal actually unreachable, or does it only seem unreachable?
At other times, the ball raced toward the line. A player sprinted forward. The ball looked unplayable to the spectators, but the player knew better. She pushed herself out of her comfort zone, gave it her all, and kept that ball inside the lines.
Sometimes you have a choice: quit or keep going.
A few of those times, it’s better to quit. If it’s something obviously destructive in your life—bad habits, for example—quitting is good. If it’s not so obvious, get an outside perspective from a wise source. (Choose carefully.)
But many times, we need to keep going because it’s the right thing to do.
We need to keep living.
Keep fighting wrong.
Keep doing the right thing.
Keep pressing on to the goal, no matter how many obstacles arise.
Our team won. The other team lost. But neither team gave up. They played hard until the final seconds of the game.
Keep playing, my friends. I’m cheering for you.