For being such a huge basketball playing family, I don’t have any photos of us actually playing basketball. How pathetic is that?? It is probably just because I am the only photographer and I like to play, so I don’t often take a camera to the game because, I don’t want it damaged and I want to play as much as they are. Anyway, this photo will have to suffice. It was our oldest son’s Eagle scout project. My then fourth grader, drew and painted this tiger for the middle of their court. But I digress, since I haven’t even started to discuss what this post is about…..
Yesterday, we attended Shorty’s community basketball game; 3rd and 4th graders playing full court. We have some unique rules to encourage learning and allow everyone to play. First, their quarters are only 6 minutes long. Every 3 minutes of clock time, play is stopped to switch players, no other substitutions, unless there are injuries. No pressing (guarding/defense in the back court–behind the half court line) is allowed, unless it is the 4th quarter and your team is not ahead by 10 or more points.
This is very much considered a learning league. Third grade is the earliest age you can participate. The referees are usually younger college age young adults (mostly men), so they are learning as well. Usually play is pretty loose as the season begins and as the boys/girls learn more and become more skilled, the refereeing becomes tighter. We are at the beginning of the season.
In Shorty’s game yesterday, the referees allowed significant traveling, significant double dribbling, hardly any foul calls (even when a couple kids ended up on the floor). I heard one of the referees telling specific players to get out of the key (there is a three second rule of being allowed to park in the key) several times. Now, those of you who do not play, may not think too much of what I have described. But if you understand the game of basketball, even on a learning level, you have to hold a specific standard in order for the children to properly learn how to play the game. The calls were so easy-going (one kid even stepped out of bounds to retrieve a ball and brought it back into the court, dribbling and they just let it go), I’m not sure what they were playing was basketball. We seemed to have a three travel rule—the whistle wasn’t blown unless you had traveled three times, consecutively. Those kinds of rules, make it difficult for the kids to learn how to play the game. Next time, they are not as likely to get such lenient refs and then be confused as to why their level of play is a problem today when it was alright the last game…..
So I got to thinking (scary, I know, but hang with me)…..
I am so grateful that, like the referees, the Lord allows us to play the game of mortality at our level. He does not expect more of us than we are capable of. He loves each and every one of us where we are in our current development. He expects just enough more of us that it requires faith, diligence, work and obedience to do the next thing He wants us to. He constantly gives us something to do that requires us to stretch and learn and grow. Sometimes it is scary and overwhelming. We are afraid. We pray for guidance and assistance to do what He asks. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have grown until we have an opportunity to look back and see it. But He would never call the game on a professional level when we are only a first, second, third, ….. or tenth year player.
However, unlike the referees in Shorty’s game, the rules are still the rules. We don’t get a pass or get to bypass the consequences of smoking just because we didn’t know it could hurt us. We still have the consequences for making choices contrary to the rules. We would still get called for traveling the first time we did it.
Isn’t that amazing?? There is an inherent balance there between mercy and justice. The eternal rules are consistent over time, space, and individuals. But the accountability rules are more flexible, measured by understanding, heart, and intent.
Now I’m going to divert for just a minute and then bring it back together.
Yesterday, I also had the opportunity to visit with a sister who is in her late 50’s and has never received her patriarchal blessing. She knows what it is and that it has been available to her, she just hasn’t ever gone through the process of receiving it. I do not know all of her circumstances, but I believe she has been active most, if not all, of her life.
A patriarchal blessing, among other things, is an opportunity for the Lord to tell you how He feels about you, what your strengths and weaknesses are, a warning voice as to particular things that will cause you, personally, trouble. It is personal scripture to you, about you.
As a parent, I take every opportunity my children will allow me to discuss those same things about each of them. They are unique. Their personalities are very different. They have different talents, abilities, gifts, struggles, temptations. My job as their mother is to help them navigate this life and to take the information they have and learn how to make the most of it and learn how to make proper decisions to bring about their exaltation and that of their families.
What if I never had that opportunity to speak to them, to pull them onto my lap, or into my arms, or just to look into their eyes and have them know how much I loved and valued them, or to warn them when I thought they were heading in the wrong direction. How much more difficult would their lives be?? (I am not saying that if you have not had your patriarchal blessing that the Lord doesn’t talk to you, but when you can have one of those conversations, verbatim, written down??……it’s a little different.)
The Lord already knows who I am and what I know and how much I should be accountable. He knows how I learn best and He knows what circumstances and people to put into play so I can lean how to play this game of mortality and come out a winner. He knows the rules and requirements. He has given me mortality to be able to learn how to play at the professional level, eventually. But He doesn’t require that level today……but I know the rules and recognize on a daily basis that I am not playing at that level.
Then He constantly reminds me that is why He came to earth……to make up the difference for what I cannot do and what I cannot become today.
So I probably could continue this, but my little family just arrived home and now there is too much commotion to think :-). That being said, I guess I am finished. Happy pondering my random thoughts….