I was having a conversation with a friend, recently. For whatever reason, the topic of dodge ball came up. We all played as kids. Many of us have mixed (mostly bad) feelings surrounding these memories. We’ve all been picked last for the team. Missed the ball and lost the game. Been beamed in the back of the head. Cringed as multiple balls came for us at the same time. Only a golden few ruled the world of dodge ball, and I was not golden. As we discussed the many reasons why we would never play this game at a church kids’ event, I started to think of the many life lessons I learned while running in terror from an eight and a half inch ball of rubber.
#1 Don’t base your own self-worth on the opinion of other people.
Sometimes, you’ll be picked last. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok. People will say hurtful things. Laugh at us. Leave us out. We need to pull our value from those around us who care for us. Ultimately, the most important opinion is that of our loving God. He thinks we are amazing.
#2 Our bruises make us beautiful.
Life is going to leave its mark. Bad things will happen to you. Sometimes, it’s the people we love most that cause the most pain. All of the hurts we survive leave bruises in their wake, but these bruises color our story. They make us who we are. God uses them to make us beautiful.
#3 You can’t win every time.
You probably won’t win most of the time. You are going to drop the ball. Some of your failures will be hugely public and far-reaching. The good news is God can redeem any situation. He loves us in our success, and He loves us in our failure. It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.
#4 Life doesn’t happen just one thing at a time.
When life throws a ball at you, there’s never just one. Multiple trials come our way. Many at the same time. You try to learn to dodge the barrage of hits that Satan aims at you, only to discover that you can’t do it on your own. Let God catch the balls and take the hits for you.
#5 Sometimes you stand your ground. Sometimes you run away.
Some fights are worth fighting. Sometimes stubbornness gets you the victory. When you can stand in front of a situation and take it head on. Catch the ball and win the game. When you are the golden one. But not all fights are worth fighting. You have to learn when to run away. When to fall on your knees and surrender the fight to God’s will. When to dodge to survive.
#6 Life can hurt. A lot. But live it, anyway.
Every once in a while, life smacks you in the back of the head and knocks you to the ground. Hard. Hard like you lost your job. Hard like your kid’s heart is broken. Hard like someone you love dies. Believe me when I tell you, the game of life is still worth playing. God has good plans for you. Joy is worth the risk of pain. Live every single ball-dodging moment to its fullest.
So, maybe dodge ball should be played. Maybe the children of this generation need to learn these lessons. Get a few bruises. Keep their egos in check. Maybe dodge ball should be played by kids… but I still don’t want to be in charge of the carnage.