For whatever reason, I have been in a funk lately and just given into it. You know, you just sit there and go, "I know I shouldn't be thinking this, but I don't care. Let me wallow in my baseless whining." So much easier it is to just let myself be jealous or a victim than to intentionally remind myself of who I am because I belong to Christ. (But here's the secret- that's really just a lie. Giving into the "easy" just drains the spirit in the long run, while fighting it and feeding the truth renews our strength like the eagles'.)
So Britt Nicole and the like have been serenading us frequently since my daughter is home from school full time, and as I was cleaning on Saturday she sang a lyric that struck me anew. One of those lyrics that I think, "Oh, I hope my girls learn this truth. Remember this truth," when it's really me that needs to hear it. I guess I haven't outgrown as much as I'd hoped...
Everybody keeps score. Afraid your gonna lose. Just ignore, they don't know the real you.
Now to be fair- no one keeps score on me. I keep score on myself. I'm the one who forgets the real me.
That's what turns me into my pity-party mess...
As soon as the words hit my brain, I realized that's what I've been doing lately. Keeping score- and everyone else is ahead. Better moms, wives, singers, writers, etc. Everyone just seems more worthy.
Then a piece popped out of my mental archive. Turns out this must be a recurring theme in my life because I just wrote about it for the church newsletter... So here it is!
It’s Not About the Score
There is something amazing about little feet and legs and bodies chasing a ball on a blanket of green. Maybe it is just me, but to watch kids on a soccer field, running with all their might, kicking, passing, scoring, celebrating- my heart just bursts into little pieces when they are exhausted and smiling.
Last year, I remember my son running up to me after every goal their team scored. Jumping, bounding, giving fives. I thought just like our relationship with the Father. It hit me that the pride and joy I felt in both my little soccer players was a gift- a glimpse into God’s regard for His children. His regard for me. The insignificance of my daily chores suddenly became reasons to give God a high five and be reminded that my Coach was right on the field with me, and celebrating my every play!
Then my son's team lost. Quite handedly. It was one of those games where we wondered if the kids packed their cleats and shin-guards, but not their feet and brains. And you could see it on their faces; they were just as baffled as the rest of us. They were trying. Trying hard. But nothing connected. Like everything we had done the past few weeks was undone in one night.
One boy was devastated. He probably would have torn his clothes in mourning had he the strength. His brother, on the other hand, did manage to score- and brilliantly-on his own team. But you should have seen his face light up. I just smiled that I-can’t-break-this-kid’s-heart smile and held out my hand. With an “I scored!” he gave me five. I then gently suggested he try scoring in the opposite goal the next time.
My son wasn’t too rocked by the loss. “We lost 9-1,” he told his Auntie Sarah, and that was about it.
My son didn’t feel like a loser. He felt Grady Jensen, the soccer player who lost a game. He knew what was really important- that even when he lost, his mother and father still loved and cared for him. It became immediately apparent that the real demonstration of my love was much more significant when he had nothing to “offer” to earn it. His ability to keep things in perspective was an example for me to follow.
It is easy to define ourselves by our roles. We rate our job performance on a spectrum from Loser to Winner and determine God’s love accordingly. Then we lose it. Nothing connects. We wonder where we left our mind. Some days I ask God, “How can you love me? I’m such a horrible mom.” I turn myself into a mom who follows God, instead of a child of God who is also a mom. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… Ephesians 2:4-5 (boldface mine)
What makes the difference?
Relationship. A relationship entirely dependent on a loving Father. A relationship that is not contingent on what we have to offer- which is awesome because, outside of Jesus Christ, there isn’t a human being on earth that has ever made the grade.
We all lose, but we are not losers. We are champions in a very literal and eternal sense. All those other vocations we have- those are just gravy. Those are graces upon grace; things we do for the glory of God because we can, not because we have to climb some ladder of success to achieve significance. In fact, it is when we are at our lowest that we are forced to look up, and God’s love reveals itself most faithful …so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2: 7-8