They worked hard, played with passion, and hoped they’d reach the goal that was ever before them.

The boy’s soccer team from the small high school where my daughter and son-in-law coach the beautiful game won the District Championship for the first time in their history. It was an amazing accomplishment.

The game was, as my daughter described it, chippy.

Not a word I currently use in my vocabulary; I needed clarity.

It’s when play gets out of control because grievances are happening all over the field and the referee isn’t keeping up with them. The passion that is already part of the game increases and players begin to get careless with how they take on other players. Those on the field then go after the opposing player rather than the ball. The referee often misses the initial violation, but typically the retribution offense is always seen. And called.

Screams of “Unfair”, “Call it even, ref”, and “Do you need glasses?” often become the response.

From the sidelines.

I’m not proud of the fact that as a soccer nana, I was as passionate about fair calls as anyone. I became loud enough that family members standing around me asked me to keep it down. And to not talk to the hecklers on the field.

“You only drop yourself to their level, Mom.”

I know that. This is a game, not a statement of identity or a political proclamation. This was to see who would win the district title for Class 2A schools.

These boys played an incredible game. They brought their best and beat the top seed 3-2. They deserved affirmation and encouragement from us on the sidelines. Not fuel to light their anger over a rough game.

The other team responded with righteous indignation when we won. Spectators walked off the field saying, “Well, your basketball team stinks.”

It takes away from a surprising accomplishment when others minimize an achievement.

This soccer team had worked hard to improve all season. My oldest grand, Ethan, played the best game he’d played all year, and he should have been proud of his contribution to the team and the team performance that brought the win.

We can’t always be winners.

Our wins aren’t guaranteed and our losses don’t define us.

What I’ve valued about my son-in-law is his emphasis on learning to play as a team, respecting one another’s gifts and working together so everyone can be more successful.

Winning comes from a group effort.

In life and on the field of play.

Insurmountable odds can be overcome by an unconditional commitment to working with one another, caring for each other, and treating others with respect and kindness.

Jesus shared this Golden Rule–doing to others as we want them to do to us.

Apart from the power of God in one’s life, this is impossible. Our selfishness keeps us focused on how well we do, on our own image. Thinking of others with compassion doesn’t always fit in our “me” grid.

But when our focus is helping others, treating others with respect, caring more for others than we do ourselves, we become better people.

That’s a win no matter what game is played.

 

 

 

 

 

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