by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
I’ve never really been a basketball fan, but since the Dallas Mavericks were in the championship series, my Texas pride made me watch. With each agonizing game (specifically the last four), I remembered why I’m not a basketball fan — the game seems filled with unfair foul calls. I know I sound like a sore loser — and I am. My Texas pride may be acting up again!
Still, even though I screamed out my frustrations over what I considered unfair calls, I also yelled for the boys to step up their game. I encouraged them to do a better job at making their shots, rebounding and so forth. Even if some foul calls were bogus, I still believed they had the ability to win the games.
Now that the series is over, I’m reflecting on how the game of basketball is sometimes like our lives. Or at least like my life.
Many times I’ve felt life was unfair — like nothing was going my way. And in those times anger, disappointment and depression victimized me: Poor me. “It wasn’t my fault.” “I didn’t have a choice.” “There was nothing I could do about the cards I was dealt but to accept them and suffer through it.”
Fortunately, my mama taught me a lesson long ago that has helped me learn how to pull myself up from what feels like life’s unfair dealings.
The lesson, or storm of events, began one September evening when I was ten years old. It wasn’t a hurricane or a tornado. But it was equally devastating and for me, and just as sudden.
I was taking my bath, getting ready for bed, when my mama unexpectedly came through the door. She promptly whisked me out of the tub to make a quick escape from her bitter and angry ex-husband — my dad. He hadn’t been able to accept the divorce. My mama had been warned by a relative that he was on his way to our place with violent intentions.
There was no time to pack, so we left with what little could be grabbed in a flash. I was never to see my home or my dad again.
For the months that followed, we were homeless with little money.
Many have asked my mama what enabled her to survive those times. I suppose some might call it a “can-do” spirit. Perhaps a positive attitude. Maybe a cheerful outlook. Or a “never-give-up” perspective. My mama could never be brought down — for long, anyway.
I can only explain that it had something to do with her faith — her faith in a new concept of God that she was learning. A God that is good and omnipotent. A loving God who will steer His children safely amid any storm. A God who has given His children the ability to prove evil powerless. A God who sent His son, Christ Jesus, to teach us how.
Her faith-filled outlook gave us hope. And her faith-filled perspective brought us the vision to see good and to find new opportunities — even peace of mind, and yes, joy. Her faith-inspired point of view led us to a new home in a new city, a career for her and a new life for both of us.
My memory of those childhood days is not of lack, uncertainty or fear. I never even thought of myself as homeless or poor.
I suppose I could look at my childhood experience with regret. But those days for me were a great gift — a lesson in how to beat the odds. How to overcome the insurmountable. How to begin anew when all is lost. How to find something good in every moment.
I learned that a different outlook can change the course of our lives. We have to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions every moment. Mary Baker Eddy wisely advised, “Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take.” And she encouraged again and again to, “Stand porter at the door of thought.”
We can do this because God gives us the ability and the strength to govern our lives in harmony and peace.
After I married, my greatest battle with what I considered the unfairness of life began when our daughter was two years old. We were ready to continue growing our family. But more children didn’t arrive. Year after year, I struggled with disappointment and depression, as well as anger and frustration. My mantra was, “Why me, Lord?”
I can’t say that I overcame my struggle as quickly as I wish I had. But as I learned in my childhood, it would require a new outlook to move my life forward. As it turns out, a grateful heart was imperative. My love and desire for children didn’t end. And children did come into my life — just in a different way than I had expected. I became a kindergarten teacher. And not long after that, my teenage niece came to live with us.
I’ve concluded God does answer our prayers — just not always in the way we outline. When I’m certain of God’s ever-presence, I’m able to respond to whatever comes my way, calmly and confidently assured of God’s directing.
And God is always directing. I just can’t hear Him very well while whining about life being unfair. But when I stop whining, I see the solutions and new opportunities that God is providing that enable me to overcome and succeed in spite of what might seem like the “unfair fouls” of life.