Hello, Loser - how to keep your shorts on when life hits you in the face

As a kid in middle school, I hated PE. It never occurred to me as a kid that I had an instructor who was a social studies teacher and didn’t know anything about teaching gym class; I just assumed he showed up every day to torture the sin out of me because I had done something bad in a previous life. Up to this point, I had only known success as the smarty-pants teacher’s pet that wasn’t too bad looking and got along with just about everybody. That was, until DODGEBALL. The teacher phoned it in everyday by having us play dodgeball endlessly, day afer day. I was an underweight pale girl with zero pain tolerance and poor reflexes, who immediately established herself as the 6th grade millstone, guaranteed to sink her team to the bottom. I squealed, writhed, whined, and cried my way to the bottom of the middle school barrell. This only made delighted 6th grade boys throw the ball that much harder. My bruises, tears, and complaints were not enough to move my teacher to compassion and stop the torture. The daily pride swallowing siege that was choosing teams became a metaphor for life; I’d self-consciously wait for the captains to come to the last choice, and inevitably complain when it became evident they’d have to have me on their team. 

Being a loser was new to me. I’d always been a winner, with self esteem to spare. I began to notice things that never bothered me before; things like my underdeveloped figure, lack of expensive clothes, or that other girls were allowed to shave their legs and I was still a hairy preteen in knee socks. Being smart, or funny, or nice didn’t matter any more. I needed to do anything to get off the losing team. I began to show others how to treat me when I acted on my low sense of self-worth. I began to personify loser. I indulged for a while in the activities of all those at risk of drowing- I started pulling others down with me. I valued only things that I thought would elevate me in the eyes of the winners.

Of course, I got over it as I grew in my Christian faith, and learned to trust God’s wisdom over the fleeting appreciation of 6th grade Queen Bees and Dodgeball Commandos. But every once in a while, life gives me a dodgeball to the face, and lands me smack dab in the middle of loser central. The kind of face-ball that makes you question your intelligence, relationships, faith, and life-choices. The kind that hands you a couple of decisions. Some of which, you may regret the rest of your life. 

That’s the problem with life’s dodgeball. While your face is stinging and you’re trying to remember what day it is, making wise choices becomes very hard. I become the self-conscious last-girl-standing all over again, and it feels like all the eyes are on me, judging. 

I know that on Christ’s team, I am on the winning side. But, it doesn’t always feel like it. That is when I have to remind myself that whatever decision I make, I need to remember my team. Any decision that undermines God’s ability to bless me is a wrong move. Wrestling away control from authority in place over me in order to improve my position, will result in unwanted exposure and pressure. Being less than honest will always result in the truth coming to light in a way that is unflattering, at best. Witholding forgiveness, judging, cursing, or grasping for attention are all things born of pride, and pride results in devastation. Having some humility and trusting in the God of the Universe to deliver you from your trial, or give you strength to bear the consequence of your action, is the only way to have victory in a sticky situation. It may feel like you are on the losing side for awhile, but rest assured, staying anchored to the Lord’s wisdom in this season is the only way to make it out with your PE shorts still on.

Staying firm and following the course of God’s wisdom requires patience, trust, and grace-things that are a gift from God, and you need to drop your pride and accept them if you have any hope of coming out in a better position than you went in. Humilty dictates you let go and let God deal with the issue by lifting it up in prayer. He is always for you, and, as a good Father, working on your behalf in ways too wonderful and mysterious to comprehend. No matter what you are in need of redemption from, God still loves you. He even likes, you, too.  So keep your shorts on.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.