Thursday, June 26, 2008

Being Ourselves (or Lessons from a Radical Raisin)

This year, I am the assistant coach for an under-five soccer team.  They are delightful to watch, whether it's the look on their face as they grasp a new soccer concept, the laughter as they play tag when the play has moved up the field, the look of wonder as they scrutinize a bug on the field (oblivious to the game going on around them), the intense look of concentration  as they race to catch up to a teammate or opponent or the devious laughter as they break rank during a drill, openly delighted that they are giving the coaching staff everything they can handle.

When they are tired, they say they are tired.  When they don't like something said or done to them by a teammate or an opponent, they express their discontent (verbally or otherwise).  When they need Mommy or Daddy, they walk off the field, even when they are the last defense between an opponent racing towards them and the goal they are defending.

They are, in essence, the human spirit in perfection - self assured (most times), focused on what is important (in their mind), able to do what they need to do and doing it when they want to do it.  Their needs are simple and yet profound in their simplicity.  We as adults naively believe that we have much to teach them but I wonder if the roles of teacher and student are actually reversed.

There is much we adults can learn from their openness and honesty.  We as adults spend a good bit of our time consumed by what someone else will think about what we did or didn't do, said or didn't say, what someone else requires at the sacrifice of our own needs, etc.  In doing so, we create a lot of excess pressure in our own lives and in turn, strain relationships by avoiding conversations with others; conversations that could strengthen relationships by building them upon honesty, trust and openness rather than building them upon compromise, avoidance and excessive sacrifice with no win-win in sight. 

We miss many opportunities to enjoy the moment because we are too focused on worrying about what everyone else needs instead of answering the call for our own needs and interests.  By constantly avoiding that which we feel is our purpose or passion (for the sake of not offending or disappointing someone else) we miss many opportunities to bring phenomenal success, happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

So here we are at the beginning of another soccer season, parents and kids alike excited about having fun, making friends and acquiring new skills.  As an assistant coach, I also look forward to having fun, making new friends and watching the kids learn.  More importantly, I look forward to the lessons I will learn from these kids.  What they teach us is in many ways, far more profound than what we believe we are teaching them.  Let's be mindful of the big lessons from the small things in life.

Let's go Raisins!

Yours in service and servanthood.


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