Some of my friends are into their 3rd week of summer. I haven't even made it to my third day. Yesterday was my first official non-duty day...and I spent it hanging out with my favorite new 9 year old.
Today. I went back to work.
So much for getting the summers off.
I went to a workshop where different administrators did mini Ted Talks on education.
I listened intently to the first speaker ....but then apparently my attention span was already on summer break and I began to drift and I tried to process some of what was said and
two old posts below that kept coming to mind.
The first speaker really tried to draw out the why of what we do...and how most corporations really nail the what and the how but don't always sell the why. (watch some Simon Sinek)
I also think that our whys are often attached to a who.
A who that encouraged us, or maybe even a who who said we couldn't or shouldn't. (My why has both) And more importantly the whose who we get to be. (and suddenly I feel like Dr. Seuss). I have struggled with the "why" question and especially the "what next" question for the last year or so....and have decided that the answers are related.
As I tried to listen to the remaining speakers I kept coming back to this post I wrote a few years ago about getting the order wrong. My list wasn't What, How, Why...
....but I think maybe in someways it answers the same questions. I originally wrote it in 2011....but I felt like re-reading it again today.
The Spirit of the Game
In the attic is a yellow pinstriped shirt with a front pocket. In which I kept a little black wallet with a red and yellow card. I have long since lost my line flags, but still have and occasional wear the knee high black socks with the tell-tale white stripes across the top.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I used to ref. Soccer. And I was pretty bad at it and mostly only reffed 12 and under games or college intermurals. But I had the uniform and the whistle and my very own stopwatch and the power to make a break a game for a team.
And they don’t give just anyone that yellow shirt (actually anyone can buy one), but you have to take a class and pass a test to earn your badge. Or get official jobs. And there are forms to fill out with every game. And you get an awful knee tan. And everyone pretty much hates you. The only plus was a decent workout and some cash in your hand at the end of the day.
My days reffing taught me a few things:
That the angles on the field and the ones on the sidelines are not the same.
When you can’t see how kicked it out it is always best to call it in favor of whatever side you are closest to.
Not to hesitate or waver on your call – do it fast and with confidence even if you don’t have a clue.
That it isn’t cool to yell at your kid. But it is really cool to yell at the dad who is yelling at his kid.
That it is really fun to give someone a card.
That almost every spectator thinks they know what off sides is, but almost none of them really do.
That it hurts bad, to get hit in the back of the head with the ball.
That extra time is discretional.
That sometimes I could run off the field faster than any of the players if I thought there was going to be trouble.
That no one likes a team that runs up the score.
That there are lot of rules to keep straight and weird what if scenarios, but more importantly than any that I found in my 37 page manual was something called “spirit of the game”.
Because in soccer there are lots of clear cut rules. But there is also lots of interpretation and discretion. There is also something called advantage. Unlike basketball, if a player is fouled, but the fouled team is in good position possibly to score you don't stop the game for the penalty. You let the fouled team play on. Sometimes you don’t call a bad throw in or an accidental handball or a flop. If a ref stopped the game for every teensy violation – soccer games would take forever and be almost as slow to watch as baseball. A bad ref makes too many calls and impedes the flow of the game OR not doesn’t make enough calls and let the teams get out of hand. And as a player you know within the first 10 minutes of the game how rough the ref is going to let things get. Too rough and people get hurt. The rules are there for a reason. For players protection. A good ref knows when to make a call and most importantly when not to. And makes good decisions all based on the “spirit of the game”. Because whether it is a professional team out there on the pitch or the cutest five year old I know. It is still a game.
And I teach school. We have a giant handbook full of rules. And they are all there for a reason. Most of them I even understand and agree with. But sometimes we have to remember why we are here. And it isn't listed in any code of conduct. And not everyone sees it this way. There are plenty of people in my building who are strict rule followers. Some of my best friends are. They insist that consistency is key and that you have to show your kids that you mean business. And that you follow the rule in every situation and scenario regardless of the situation.
But I don’t really care about meaning business.
I care about teaching them. And I just care about them period.
So occasionally, I ignore a rule in the spirit of the game.
I give them the advantage.
And I don’t think I should have to apologize or defend this.
I worry about them first, then my content, and then the rules. And a lot of teachers go in the opposite order.
And maybe they have higher test scores than me. So be it.
And a lot of Christians look at the bible the same way.
Rules first, content second, and then getting down to loving last.
Which I'm pretty sure isn't the order it should go in.
And I’m pretty sure I made more than my share of bad calls on the soccer field, and maybe I should bust a few more kids for ids or tardies or cell phones.
And I think that rules are important. In games. In schools. In society. And even in within our faith.
But. They were never meant to come first.
Maybe not even second.
Ironically the speaker today was a pretty big rule follower...but I think maybe she would agree.
And the rest wasn't the topic of any talk.....just a theme that keeps showing up in my world. I posted this years ago...but...keeps creeping back in. Maybe I am a slow learner...
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.
There is a story inbook of Joshua, crazy old testament stuff. A weird plan to take down an enemy where he was outnumbered with a far fetched strategy involving marching around the city a few times and blowing a horn. That's it. That was the entire plane and then right before go time a sword bearing angel shows up. 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”
I doubt that is the reassurance Josh was hoping for.
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. Instead 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.
And that is more than enough.
And that is more than enough.
Maybe his question should have been directed at himself.
“Who am I for?”
And that tiny shift in perspective changes everything.
And. I still have to remind myself of those questions...
"Why?" and "Who am I for?"
But first.....a long overdue summer break.
And my favorite Ted Talk of all time. (I tried to be cool and find some obscure Ted Talk to throw out here...but....this one kills me every. single. time.)
and in the name of vulnerability...