"I'll show you, you (insert word that I'm probably not allowed to write in this blog here)"
These were the words my step-dad gave to me and my younger brother when we were kids playing basketball. It was a mantra to remember in those games when we felt the ref wasn't calling it fair, our teammates were being losers, or when our coach wasn't giving us a fair go. We'd complain or whinge after the game and our step-dad (who I just found out actually reads this blog - hey Jim!) would just tell us to show them. None of this "try your best and just have fun!" business.
Show them what exactly? Resilience. Never say die attitude. Determination. Basically, what our step-dad was saying was this: if you really care about the game so much, then go all the way. Don't give up just because things aren't going your way!"
Those words came back to me during my basketball game on Wednesday night. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I play for a social team with some mates. It was a brutal game, physical, hard-fought and it went down to the wire. After building a solid lead in the first half, we began to tire and run out of steam and the other team began knocking down three pointers all over us (in layman speak, we were getting our butts handed to us on a platter, and they were doing it with style). By the end of the third quarter, the other team was up by eight points.
I thought it was game over. Even though there was still the final ten minute quarter left to play, the other team had the momentum and we were run ragged. My legs tightened up and it felt as if my feet were glued to the floor. I looked at my teammates, I looked at the opposing team, I saw their star player grinning like a Cheshire cat. I'll show you...
Something special transpired over the next ten minutes. It was as if the whole team thought the same thing as me: we're not going down without a fight! Suddenly, concrete legs sprang to life, we were moving with grace and speed, hounding them on defense, outrunning them on offense. An eight point deficit turned into a one point lead. The final buzzer sounded and we looked up at a scoreboard that read 53-53. A draw. Even though we didn't come away with the win, there was still a level of satisfaction with our effort in the fourth quarter.
My point is not about the theatrics and drama of competitive sport; but that the old cliche' of hard work and determination is so true. Sadly, they're qualities that are too easily relegated to sports or competition. After the game I was exhausted, battered and bruised; I pushed myself until that final buzzer (as did all my teammates). But I had to ask myself the question: I'm willing to push myself so hard for a game, do I give everything in my life this sort of effort?
Admittedly, no. That level of determination doesn't extend to all areas of my life. If I put that sort of effort into my study, my work, my relationships, my faith......These are the hardest battles in my life but how often do I just cruise through them? My relationships and my faith are the most important, most treasured things in my life - should I not be as determined for these as I am a basketball game?
As a young person too often I'm confronted with the messages like "don't care/don't stand out/don't worry". Too often I'm told to just fit in. But why fit in when you were made to stand out? What my step-dad was teaching me as a kid was to care enough about my life to do something with it. Society would say to me "why care so much?" Well, turns out at the end of our game on Wednesday night the scoreboard was wrong. It should have read: 52-51. Guess we showed them.