Friday, January 13, 2012

Journey of Faith Friday: Battling through Basketball


Battling through Basketball

I was a mere 16 years old.  It was a hot summer afternoon.  We sat circled on the concrete discussing the last several days of practice, games won, games lost, along with the things we like/disliked about team members and our coach.  Teenagers taking it in, all while analyzing those around us.........aka gossiping.  It was a fun time, but as usual I struggled to keep my opinions to myself.  Later that evening a team meeting was called and while not being the only one singled out, I will never forget coach labeling me one of the "bad apples."

BAD APPLE!  I knew exactly what that meant; however, at 16 I justified my attitude, my words, and my actions through a series of blaming the few others who were "causing" me to spew my opinion to anyone willing to listen.

....For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45 NIV)

Time passed.  The team united.  We worked hard.  We won the first district championship for our school in over a decade.  We worked hard through the summer.  I was ready for an even better year my senior year.  Now, not only was I a stubborn 17 year old, I was a leader with an opportunity to leave my "imprint" on our small town.

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in love, in faith, and in purity.  (1 Tim. 4:12)

WOW!  Did I ever leave an imprint. 

There were a few rough patches through the off-season and I had my fair share of disagreements with our coach, but as the season approached, I was excited.  I loved basketball (still love basketball) and enjoyed being part of a group of people working together to achieve the same goal.

The season began and the label "bad apple" was becoming more and more true.  I could include all of the things a few people surrounding me did wrong, because there were some, but that would defeat the point.  The point is I had little respect for authority.  I struggled to keep my emotions and mouth in check.  I allowed anger to control my thoughts and my actions.  I gave up and walked away.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who you must give account. (Hebrews 13:17)

The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.  (Proverbs 14:16,17)

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, set's the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)

I sat in the locker room after a defeat, wringing my hands, my leg shaking, my heart pumping.  I could feel the anger bubbling up inside me and everyone knew it.  Many encouraged me to speak, as they felt similarly, but I knew it was not the best decision.  Then, coach asked, "Amber, do you have something to say?"  The volcano erupted and once the lava had flowed over, I slammed the door of the locker room and was on my way to my dad's truck.  The incidence led to several days of intense practice and a full game sitting the bench for me.

Why didn't I learn my lesson?  Be quiet.  Respect authority.  Work hard, no matter what.  Play your game and move on.  Listen.  Look at the big picture.

A teammate missed practice, yet was allowed to start the next game and again I was SENT OVER THE EDGE!  Thinking I needed to take justice into my own hands, I made a poor choice to skip the next practice for a babysitting opportunity, thinking there was no way I would face consequences.

Do not say, "I'll do to them as they have done to me; I'll pay them back for what they did." (Proverbs 24:29)

Long story short, I did.  I arrived to board the bus, and was called into the coaches office.  There I was informed that I could ride to the game, but I would not be playing since I missed practice.  I walked out of the gym never to play in a basketball game again.


Justice served, right!?!?


My heart was broken for months.  I missed the sport.  I missed the teamwork.  I missed practice.  I missed learning.  I missed the games.

At times, my heart is still broken and disappointed over my actions during those months of disrespect, pride, boasting, revenge, malice, and rage.  Honestly, I feel sick thinking about it right now.

A few years later, I became a Christ follower and one of the first things I did was send an apology letter to my high school basketball coach.  It was a relief when he accepted my apology, but the reality is I missed out on so much.  I gave up on something that I was passionate about all because of pride, anger, and rebellion.

I wish I could say that was the end of my rebellious heart, my disrespecting views, my flippant tongue, and my justice seeking ways, but it was not.  It is a daily surrender for me...........that often times is not daily surrendered.

I need the grace of God.  I need His overflowing mercy.  I need His endless forgiveness.  I need His sanctifying Spirit.  I need His everlasting love.  I long for His righteousness to wash over me.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient  for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  (2 Cor. 12: 8,9)
Read previous Journey of Faith Friday posts.

Every Friday, I post about the work God is doing or has done in my life, as I journey on this road of faith.  However, since Thanksgiving is next week, I will be taking a break, but back on Friday, December 2nd.

How is God working in your life as you journey with Him?

Would you consider sharing it with us today?

If you decide to share...enter the URL to your exact post below.  If you join, please help us find one another by sharing the "Journey of Faith" graphic within your post.

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Dianna@The Kennedy Adventures said...

I'm WAY older than 16, and still struggle with some of the same personality flaws. I like to look at it in this way -- how can I use my 'fill in the blank' temparment as God intended?

Thanks for your story, and for your weekly linkup!

Nate and Molly said...

It's so cool to hear about how coming to follow Christ changed you. I love that you sent a note of apology, too, to your coach, years later.

Amanda said...

Hey girl. Thanks for sharing. I had forgotten that you quit the team. So glad you wrote an apology letter to your coach years later. I'm sure he/she appreciated that so much. Btw, love seeing photos of you as a teenager!

Kindra said...

This is what the life devoted to Christ is all about - learning and growing into who He wants us to become. It says so much about who you are that you wrote that letter to your coach. I love these pictures. And I love you.

Casey Martinez said...

Wow girl...just wow. This was like reading a really good biography novel. I just kept eating it up and grieving for the young person that you were and the wrestle that you have dealt with flesh vs. spirit. I know what you mean when you look back and almost cringe thinking about the mistakes or sins we committed. I don't struggle with anger but, I struggle with not being confident enough to stand up for myself and speak the truth when it is uncomfortable. So perhaps the opposite challenges me. Even as an adult I am learning how to lovingly and boldly speak up when God is nudging me to. Boy, we really are ever a work in progress aren't we. Thank you for being real and sharing your story. I know God was glorified by your transparency because that is what being a real believer is all about!

Warren Baldwin said...

Powerful story. Going to forward it to my basketball-playing daughter. She'll like it.