I remember that rush I got, standing on the podium in the 1990 Olympics as they placed the gold medal around my neck. I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt, knowing I’d done my country proud. And the applause! Oh, the applause was amazing, ringing in my ears, getting louder and louder . . . it was incredible.
That is, until I realized that ringing was actually my alarm clock.
Yeah, in my dreams, I’m definitely a gold medalist. An All-Star Player. A Hall-of-Famer with multi-million dollar contracts. Sleek new sport cars. The works.
In my dreams, I’m an A-lister. In real life, I play second string on the D-Team.
There, I said it. I’m not proud of it, but I have come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be a world-class athlete.
Or a world-class anything, for that matter, unless there’s a sports category for goof ball.
But I’ve also come to embrace my D-Team status. Living in a small-town Texas, football-obsessed community, I’ve noticed something.
Nobody has more fun than the D-Team.
Now, I’m not saying the A-Team doesn’t enjoy football. Of course they do. But they also have this enormous pressure to play their best, all the time. To go the extra mile. To not mess up. If they have an off day, they let their team down. If they make a mistake, they have to face a screaming coach and a booing crowd. Too many mistakes, and they’ll be on the bench. They may even be moved to — heaven, help us — the B-Team. For the A-Team, it’s only fun if you win.
The D-Team, on the other hand, has fun in the locker room, trying to figure out if they got their pads on straight. They have fun at practice, cracking jokes with their teammates between plays. They have fun running off the field after the game, waving at Grandma in the stands, because Grandma doesn’t care about the score. She thinks her player is the hero, even if he fumbles the ball seven times in a quarter.
For the D-Team, it’s not about winning. It’s about the game. Getting to play is like ice cream.
Winning is just the cherry on top.
For too many things in my life, I become obsessed with the scoreboard. For too many things, I forget to have fun. I become so focused on the desired outcome that I fail to enjoy the journey. I put pressure on myself and others to be perfect. To be the best. To win.
But God doesn’t keep score, and He doesn’t want us to, either. Which is a good thing because, if He did keep a running list of my failures, I’d surely be a contestant on The Biggest Loser: Life Edition.
No, God doesn’t really care how many times I win. He cares about how I play the game. How much joy I have, and how much joy I give to others. He cares about how well I’m loving people. He cares if I’m doing my best to reflect His kindness and compassion and peace to those around me.
God has to remind me, nearly every day, not to take myself so seriously. He’s not keeping track of my wins and losses, and I shouldn’t either. It’s okay to slow down, to laugh a lot, to enjoy the game of life simply for the sake of playing. And the great news is, when I trust Him completely, when I love others selflessly, when I bring peace and joy and praise into whatever situation I may find myself, that’s when I get to play on His A-Team.
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Psalm 130:3-4 NIV.
Bonus: Get a free PDF of my new book, Christmas Countdown: An Advent Activity Book for Families! And watch for my other new book, Diary of a Wimpy Elf, coming soon. 🙂