Monday, June 7, 2010

Dodge Ball Litmus Test

Each spring at the kids' school the parent-teacher organization hosts a Family Fun Night. The highlight is the Dodge ball Tournament. Now, if you are like me, you still have nightmares of Junior High Physical Education class and violent games of dodge ball. The two P.E. teachers, one male and one female, would divide us into two teams, blow the whistle and then proceed to scale to the top of the bleachers where they would immerse themselves in conversation with the high school cadet teachers and leave the struggle of natural selection to play out on the hardwood floor below. I know anyone who ever wore glasses in middle school can still feel the pain of a rubber ball smashing your frames into the bony projections across the bridge of your nose. Ouch!

Well, this spring we settled into the bleachers in the gym along with a couple hundred other people to cheer on our favorite grade in the annual dodge ball contest. The rules were simple, if you were hit--you were out. If someone caught your ball in the air--you were out. You were to make your way to the sidelines and when the referee called "time" the team with the most players still standing won.

The children lined up, the whistle blew, and colorful balls filled the air, whizzing back and forth. We hooped, we hollered, and we clapped for every well-placed hit or expertly-timed catch. Several adults and high school students watched from carefully chosen vantage points, but they didn't catch every play. In amazement I watched as children who were clearly hit glanced around to make sure no one motioned for them to exit the floor and then just kept right on playing. If you've ever been hit by a dodge ball you know it is a "for sure"--you don't wonder if maybe it missed you. They knew they had been hit and yet they continued to stay in the game. The judges didn't see, but what these kids seemed oblivious too was the fact that about 200 other people did see.Their integrity played out in front of a live audience.

I must tell you that, even though my own kids were disappointed, each one left the game, abiding by the rules. I was proud of their ability to stick to the rules and Justice's team even came out on top as the SW Dodge ball Champs for the second year in a row.

The lesson wasn't lost on me. Every day we are in a contest. We dodge the rubber dodge balls of the Enemy of our souls. While the projectiles might differ, the contest is the same for both us and our children. The amazing thing is that there is a heavenly audience watching our fight take place too. A host of angels and demons observe whether we stick to the rules, whether we show integrity, whether we get out there and fight or just hover in the back trying not to get hit.

And in real life, the roles are reversed. While we fight the contest, our kids sit in the bleachers of life and watch. Even when we forget they are watching, they're there, observing, learning, and filing it all away.

So the next time you think something isn't a big deal...The next time you think nobody's watching... The next time you think it just isn't worth the effort to set it right...remember the people in the bleachers--watching.

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