How to finish well

Bringing this one out of the archives for today😅😅. This was my third post on the blog, a whole year and a half ago. But I think it holds some truth for the present.

For a while in this season (the faith-beating season from about one post back) I have believed deeply that it is important to engage in sports. Not just because that exercise pays well both physically and financially (for those who decide to make a career out of it and are really really good at it), but also because of the frame it puts you in mentally and emotionally.

There is something to be said for people who wear loss without so much shame and still show up every other game, those who refuse to be defined by that grim moment.

This thought came to me sometime as I was watching football, one team was down by 5 goals and they couldn’t quit the game. There was no hope for a great recovery seeing how they were deep into their 2nd half but they saw it through. Played with what looked to this spectator as much enthusiasm and skill. Refusing to truly give up till the fat lady sang. And when it was done, there was amicable shaking of hands all through. Of course there must have been a raging of emotions on that field but they all bore it with great emotional maturity.

That’s not me!

I know it’s not me because I did have a friendly game of Scrabble with my dad and when he beat me by a good 60 points I felt the mere energy to sustain conversation with him run low. And it doesn’t help either that I was the score keeper. When I saw the game was not going to turn in my favour I considered lessening his points or entering his turns as passes. It was the first game I lost to him in a while and I realised that I was a sour loser…the very worst really.

So these past couple of days, I have been watching the IAAF World Championships. Maybe you could have guessed that from the title…maybe not. And maybe you are not a sports person at all (and I urge you to get one…at least one. You don’t have to play physically but I think if you engage emotionally you’ll learn a few things about yourself), so these terms are new to you.

I can’t claim to be able to explain them perfectly but here is the short of it, false starts – where you start off before the set time and disqualifications – what happens to you when you play out of the set rules of the game. Both have grave impact on your overall performance.

The games have been a mini family affair. My sister is always supporting the underdog and exclaiming how great the human body is and the strengths it can achieve with the right training and discipline. If you want to see a bit of wonder of the human body, watch the pole vault. Now that’s something, at least it was for me. My mum on the other hand, a sportswoman in her youth, has trouble seeing people lose. Very unexpected really given that she did do these sports. And me, well I sit with my thoughts, looking almost uninterested.

And I will tell a little bit more about these thoughts, using Scrabble…let every word count.

In the sporting world, at least the little I know about it, the phrase ‘wait your turn’ is law and order and the phrase ‘rules are meant to be broken’ is death. The false start (or rather my spin on it) happens in Scrabble too. The idea in scrabble, if you’ve never played, is to milk as many points from every single play. So you find yourself eyeing the bonuses, the double world, double letter, triple word, triple letter boxes but because you are playing with someone else they are definitely eyeing the same.

In the heat to win, you may find yourself playing words out of turn to maximise points…not because you are scared or impatient or undisciplined but you’ve seen your moment and want to take it. Maybe that’s what happens to athletes too with their races.

If a word is to count it has to be an acceptable word. Like if you look it up in a dictionary you’ve all agreed upon, you should be able to find it’s definition. If it doesn’t exist, you lose your points and the word is struck from the record. You get to this point when another player challenges your word and if the word exists they lose their turn.

But that’s not the game we are playing at home, it’s all friendliness and learning here.

Struck from the record…I think that is a better explanation for disqualification. The good thing with sports though is that you almost always get another turn to prove yourself. Wouldn’t we want that to be how every other aspect of life works? That you always get another chance to prove yourself and you go with the current standings rather than looking at the past? To engage in sports, I think, is to always think ahead.

Do we encounter false starts and sudden disqualifications in every day life? I think so. There are those moments when you see your opening, your moment and want to take it or when you have your contributions struck from the record of those for whom you want it to count. And it’s not like in life they give you a green light for when it is your turn! Who can say for sure that it is not yet your time?

But we do have rules (they may not be wholly exhaustive as we would want them to be) and the beauty is in the strength of training and discipline. To sum all this up, to avoid false starts and disqualifications calls for a deeper dependence on God, only He knows every start and end, and what it takes for us to claim ‘qualification’.

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