there is no I in team


Saturdays are spent hauling lawn chairs and water bottles. Watching from the sidelines. Cheering and chatting with the other moms as my kids run up and down the soccer field. Or on the couch grading papers while my college team has another average year on the football field. My husband follows even more teams, he TiVos premier leaugue soccer, MLS, baseball and any other sport that they will show on TV.
We support our local teams, our college team and more than occasionally the underdog.

We all want someone to root for. And someone to root for us.

Even better than cheering on your favorite team is being a part of one.  Up until my senior year of high school – I suited up for the tennis team. But tennis is really an individual sport. Even if you are wearing matching windpants. Occasionally I played doubles – but two is more of a duo –not so much a team. Senior year, title IX, and my school started a girls soccer team. No one had ever heard of Mia Hamm even though she had already won her first world cup. My team was not winning any world cups, and barely won any games. But I remember my first real game. Beneath the lights. Spread out on the field.  Losing 10 to 1 or something equally awful but with matching double french braids, new jerseys and gum tattoos and thinking this was different. This is how it felt to be on a team. And I liked it better. Even getting our ass kicked and sucking wind.

Teams are not limited to who we root for or what jersey we wear. They find us or we find them at work or church or your neighborhood everyday. We form alliances worthy of Survivor. And sometimes even seemingly the most mature work/church/fill-in-the-blank-with-your-group environments could put junior high girls to shame. And to some degree they can be good. People to vent to, or make copies for you or watch your class while you run to the restroom. People who don’t think you are crazy when you ask a question at Bible study or don’t laugh when you fall asleep in the pick up line. These people are on your team. You can count on them. And that is a good feeling. It is one of my favorite things about being married. Knowing that at least one other person is always on my team. Unless of course we are playing a board game or a quick set of tennis and then I am most definitely trying to beat him.

But sometimes people try to put you on the opposing team or force you to pick a side. I’ve had people make assumptions that surely I am on their team. They assume I vote the same way, hate who they hate and hold the same grudges they do. When I am not even sure I want to play the same game. It makes me tired and sad and confused. Like maybe I should be on their team, even though it isn’t a game I want to play. And I can’t help but think we have picked the wrong opponent. Maybe it is just easier to try and beat someone else, than to try to win.

 I read a lot of books. Currently I am in the middle of some Jodi Picoult trash, a book on education, a memoir, one on writing and a few you’d buy at Mardel. I read a lot from the last category. And when they get to scripture or a well known bible story…I sometimes start skimming or jump ahead. I have read that stuff already. Multiple times. But this time I read a story that I have read and re-read and never hardly paid that much attention to because it seems so absurd in the first place. Crazy old testament stuff. A king trying to bring down the wall of a city by marching around it a few times and blowing a horn. (Joshua and the wall of Jericho), but the author managed to get me to read a part of the story I never noticed before. I guess the part we skipped over in Sunday school (Joshua 5:13), where Joshua decides to ask a pretty brave question to a mysterious man that the bible claims is not a man but the actual commander of the army of the Lord. You think if a sword bearing angel showed up right before go time, claiming to be ready for battle would encourage the guy. Instead, Joshua lays a pretty big question on him,  Are you ready for us or for our enemies?”

In other words –Are you sending me in to get slaughtered? Will you take care of me?
Should I trust you? Are you who you say you are? Are you good?

Are you even on my team? Or you on my enemies?

 And God’s messenger answered with a shocker. He didn’t say “of course I am on your side, Joshua.” Or “Trust me”. Or “We are going to slaughter them.” Or “I have your back” or even “let’s get rid of those awful Isrealites”.

Instead he said this.
Neither”

Joshua asks whose side he is on, and God's messenger says neither. Right before he was supposed to put his crazy plan into action. And then he said simply that he was here. And to take off his shoes because the place was now holy. (Joshua5:14)

Maybe God doesn’t pick teams.
Instead he shows up.
Maybe Joshua didn’t ask the right question.
Maybe his question should have been directed at himself.
“Who am I for?”

And that tiny shift in perspective changes everything.

 
 
My favorite team above, on a side note -- I do not know anyone named Jess. And the typo is so funny to me that I didn't even bother to call and have a correct one printed. Might be easier just to change Tess's name.
(and the book I was reading was Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst who said all of the above but better, and unlike me she managed not to use any swear words.)
 

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