“I was beginning to see fewer of our weaknesses and more of our strengths; the events of the day were a reminder of how each of us had certain abilities that the rest did not. It was as if we were each a part of a whole body- one the hands, another the legs, and so on- dependent on one another and working best when we performed in unity.” ~Patrick Carman
I must set the stage for today’s blog with a description of my sons and where tennis has taken their relationship in the past few weeks, but first ask yourself the question, have I ever thought life would be better without my weaknesses? Do I believe that highly talented people have more to offer this world than mediocre people like myself?
To set the stage, first let me tell you about my oldest son, Carter. Newly eighteen and a senior in high school, Carter is a born leader. His intensity and drive is something to be reckoned with. Take that drive onto the tennis court and you’ll find sheer will and physical strength (developed through that will) dropping shots at record pace either within the lines or out because fire is hard to contain (which can be a weakness).
Then there’s Davis, next born son who will soon turn sixteen and towers over his older brother. At 6’2″, Davis is more of a sleeping giant. He’s the chill factor. The quiet one. But don’t let that fool you. Davis is constant, steady, and naturally athletic even without intensity. On the tennis court he will angle a shot with such ease, you’d think he was napping in the process (which can be a weakness).
I will apologetically admit (because who am I to question God?) that I’ve had the thought, Lord…if you had morphed Carter’s intensity and Davis’ natural athleticism there could have been money made on that potential! I’ve been tempted to think that blending the two talents into one person would serve the world better, much like I’ve thought my own weaknesses are simply a detriment and I’d rather be without them.
Those thoughts are so Hollywood-ish. This thinking tells us that the rare specimens who have super ability are the ones who serve us the most because we witness how they get the world’s attention. Those types make it to grand slams and are sponsored by Nike.
God’s world is upside down, however.
He taught me this fact afresh at a remote tennis court during a match that will never be remembered in history books. Can two brothers playing tennis teach us about marriage, relationships, and living life in community? Surely! With eyes wide open these two can teach us much more than grandiose ticket sales and athletic glamour shots. Allow me to share…
This Friday, November 1st, 2013, my two boys will compete with other top ranked tennis players for a spot in the state championship. They had to make it to districts to get here and how they achieved this is where our lesson lies.
During the first match in their fight to advance to districts, Carter and Davis brought their individual personalities (and weaknesses) to the court which quickly had impassioned Carter in the face of placid Davis. Finger wagging and expletives were hurled from one side and the future wasn’t looking bright for this doubles team who allowed the same conflict dictate many of their previous matches played together with little success.
Something happened this time that would change everything.
There was a divine switch in thought and action.
The two stopped. They stepped aside. Two brothers faced one another and they made a choice to communicate what works and what doesn’t work in motivating them toward they’re best performance.
Davis was able to say, “In my face doesn’t help me. I need positive encouragement and less aggression.”
Carter was able to say, “Melancholy doesn’t help me. I need to know you are in this. I want to see some passion.”
They found a zone.
They became a team.
They found what worked for the other person, not just for themselves.
They made the needed adjustments.
Carter clapped for Davis instead of wagging an angry finger and Davis even grunted during his serves!
They took the focus off self and placed it on one another; their teammate and sibling!
This is God’s world.
I don’t believe He cares as much about the MVP title as we do. I know without a doubt that He could manufacture a few more Serena’s or Nadal’s and we would all flock to gawk. But what really gets God’s attention is when two high school brothers, unknown to the distracted world, teach us what it looks like to be a better spouse, to look to the good of our friend while also remembering our own need, to become a better participant in a life of community.
As a people, living life together, not separate, we would do well to incorporate this same strategy to our game of life. It’s time to stop knocking ourselves down over individual weakness and realize that with gaps we can still become strong together!
I can’t wait to watch my boys play on Friday. If we choose to look at statistics, the odds are stacked against them, but this mom does not care. This mom knows they have already won and this mom knows that when we do things God’s way, anything is possible! No opponent can beat what God has brought together.
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)