A Special Decade: Square Up
I’m rounding off a decade this summer. A decade of being a mother and of being a “special” (fancy, huh?) one at that. Over the next few months I’m going to share a few thoughts on what I’ve been able to see in these past ten years.
At 11-years-old, I was already 6 feet tall. You heard me right, six feet. Aside from dozens of height related nicknames, that meant one thing. Basketball.
You cannot, may I repeat, cannot be this tall without having kids randomly proclaiming, “You are TALL!!!” and adults forever asking “Where you play ball?” and “How tall are you?” or better yet, talking to each other about your height as if you don’t hear them. And there were the occasional folks that took it upon themselves to tell me how short or tall any man in my life should be, as if the height problems of the world lay squarely upon my shoulders.
(If you are worried about laughing here…go right on ahead. I do. My tall family does. My short friends do. It’s cool. These strangers didn’t impact my self esteem or choice of spouse. No offense taken.)
It’s funny – seeing the way obvious things just flow out of peoples mouths.
But that’s not my point here. I digress.
So maybe the height questions didn’t shape me too much, but they did eventually make me curious enough to try basketball.
I made my way over to basketball tryouts, and I made the team and played for a few years. Today I had a flashback to those sweltering days in the gym.
Every shot, every pass, every everything was about focusing your body, your hips, your shoulders, your eyes where you wanted the ball to go, even after releasing the ball.
I spent many an hour in the driveway practicing, squaring up to the goal, how to follow through.
When the word “special” came into my life, I ran smack dab into a wall of expectations. My goals and my abilities flew in two different directions. It was no game, but the physics of life just didn’t seem to work anymore.
Goals are good. Focusing is good. But was focusing on our loss good, focusing on the heartache? I had to do this to some extent – to work through it, to lay it at Jesus’ feet. But what then? How was I to learn to live right where I was. This was a new game entirely…with one common fundamental – the ball would follow my aim.
Expectations are marks we predeterime on a shifting planet. By the time we reach them, they are rarely the right target (or anywhere within our proximity). Things that seem so good for us are more like prancing ghosts, sirens, taking you from the real life-giving goals.
At some point, continuing to focus on my old expectations was like throwing a skeet ball across an arcade. (Why does that make me chuckle?)
No matter if it’s the hijacked honeymoon or “special” coming into your life – the expectations (not the circumstances) are the things that make you miserable. Expect a marriage without fighting. Expect a baby that sleeps through the night. Expect a seamless job transition. Expect the easy path and you will always find yourself in angst. Ann Voskamp says “Expectations are the death of relationships.” I didn’t hear that until 8 years into this journey and it shook me. It said it all. My expectations had been killing me, robbing me of my joy and keeping me completely off target.
At some point when you are lost at sea, you have to throw aside the shock that this happened to Y O U and start surviving, start noticing the gifts. Ann’s book “One Thousand Gifts” has been an in-the-water-teacher for my soul.
I did count. I wrote down, on paper one thousand gifts. I didn’t do it in a day or a week. It took some serious time, but I did it. And it changed me. The gifts were always there, but I didn’t always see them. Counting gifts helped me recalibrate. Somewhere along the way, I looked up to see that I was playing on my home court (my “new normal”). I was playing where I’d been placed, aiming my energy through the right hoop, not one 3 courts over where I thought I’d be.
On the night he was betrayed, “he took bread, gave thanks and broke it.” Luke 22:19
There is always occasion to give thanks. Always.