“Okay, girls, that’s it. Go out there and play fair; do your best!” Of course, our coach was also the coach of our opponents so we had to wait for her to finish the same pep talk she would be repeating for the Eighth Grade team now. Two sharp blasts of her whistle and we took our places at the center of the court. Our tallest player didn’t come close to the height of their tallest player, but we got the tip of the ball, nevertheless. That was the one, and only, kindness we were shown by these hard-driving eighth grade basketball players.
As had been my fear, their tallest player was assigned to a one-on-one defense, against me. Twisting out and pushing up in another zone made not a bit of difference; they were not working a zone defense. If I moved, she moved… no matter where on the court I was, she was in my face. When I was in place and received the pass for the shot, I just could not jump higher than the reach of those long arms. She probably wasn’t really 8 feet tall but it felt like it to my 5:4” , especially when she stretched out her arms and grabbed the ball just seconds after it left my hand on every jump shot, every single one. Fortunately, it was just an exhibition game so only lasted part of the First Quarter of the usual game time. Our team lost 2:1 and, no, it wasn’t me that made the one point at the free-throw line. I never got a chance at scoring from the free-throw line; my opponent never once fouled me. She was jus too good, as well as too tall, for me.
The sad thing was that I had hoped to do better at basketball to help cover up the humiliation that awaited me when the court became a dance floor. It was just not to be. As you might have imagined, I was not in the best of humor when the boy took my hand and led me out to the designated area, all those adult eyes watching us, smiling as only parents can at these things.
I glanced at my much taller, blond friend as the intro started. His broad grin did not bode well; that twinkle in his blue eyes was just all-too-familiar a precursor to his comedy spots. The stereo loud speakers vibrated as Chubby Checker belted out, “C’mon everybody, c’mon… twist and shout!” We began the usual gyrations, fairly stiffly at first. I could see my dance partner, laughing, twisting and turning. He looked like he was really having a great time. In fact, so much so that I forgot all the peering eyes and began to get into it, too! I just focused on his eyes and what the rest of him was doing and ignored everything else… and everyone else in the stands. Funnily enough, I did enjoy the dance, as well as the applause from the adults at the end!
Both of these events had been surprises, indeed! I had expected that the dancing would come under the category recorded in Hebrews Chapter 5, verse 8: “…yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (KJV). I expected I would suffer, big time, in submitting to my teacher and obeying her in this dance program but, it would be good for me to just obey in the end. Ha, in the end, it was the event that gave me a lot of pleasure not suffering. I wonder just how many times in my life I could have had the pleasure, had I not let fear or pride keep me from obeying?
God understands all of our difficult moments in life and He always has. While God does want us to succeed, and is our biggest cheerleader, God also wants us to grow to be like Jesus. Humility is an important part of God’s character and He wants us to learn humility, too. Sometimes that looks like the tallest eighth grader we’ve ever had guarding us, with arms long enough to rip that prideful skill right out of us in mid-air! In the total scheme of things, not so bad. The other girl and I, actually, became really good friends.
****Lessons Off the Court: Junior High Trauma … Coming Tomorrow