Monday, March 30, 2015

It's how you play the game

During my time playing basketball in England, I had many different experiences, experiences which have helped me learn very good life lessons. One such experience came during a closely-contested tournament game.

The away game, and score, went back and forth. It was tight and highly competitive. On the defensive end, I was fouled and had to walk the length of the court, to our basket, to shoot my one-and-one. This also placed me directly in front of the opposing team's bench.

As I stepped up to the foul line, the official handed me the ball. Throughout the years, I had developed a routine at the line that I followed every time I shot free throws, whether in a game or during practice. I began this routine. The other team's bench began shouting and jeering at me. I could hear them in the periphery of my thoughts. I concentrated on my routine and (there was a time playing basketball when I could routinely make 95 out of 100 free throws- I used to practice four to five hundred of them every day), the shot went in. The other team's bench stopped yelling.

Again, the ball was handed to me by the official for my second shot. Again, I began my routine. Again, the other team began yelling at me. They swore, jeered, and screamed derisive words and phrases. Again, I concentrated on my routine and shot. Again, I heard them in the periphery of my thoughts. Again, I made the shot. And, again, they stopped yelling.

This time, however, a thought crossed my mind. I could be the one to have the final word. I could point to the score board- signifying that my two shots had just moved us ahead of them- I could look at the opposite bench in an "I am better than you" moment, then run down the court. Or, I could know in my heart that I had made the shots despite their sarcastic harassment, not point to the score board, and merely continue playing the game.

I chose to do the latter. I wanted to do the former and point. But, I did not. For me, that moment was not worth what I would pay in the long-term. It was not how I wanted to play the game (even though I would have been completely justified in doing it after all of their screaming and yelling).

It has never been a part of my nature to use sarcasm in my interactions with others. Oh, it is very tempting to do so, especially in times of charged and contentious back-and-forths. But, I sincerely do my best not to succumb. I know in the long term, it will only hurt, fracture, and demean relationships. And, I do not want that on my over-active conscience.

This week, I have encountered fractious remarks, behavior, and sarcasm from four different family members. It has hurt terribly. It has felt like I have been stabbed in my heart, literally. I have wanted to react back with biting sarcasm and the same mean-spiritedness, disdain, and disrespect I have been pelted with. But, I have not. It has been hard. SO freaking hard. I have held my tongue and my actions. I have not wanted to be the one responsible for breaking of relationships. It is not how I want to "play the game" even though they are choosing to behave differently. For now, I have peacefully separated myself from them and their venom. My sanctuary is with Heaven and Their help.