I have a history of playing soccer in my past so I quite enjoyed watching as my child seemed to have the energy and reserve of an atomic energizer bunny as she chased down the ball and/or tried to score. Just remembering that time makes me laugh.
However, being as young as they were it was basically a free-for-all where ever the ball happened to be. There was a lot of pushing, there were many tears and many, many times when the kids would grab the ball with their hands and throw it. Often after one of those mentioned offenses, a child would look over to their parents on the sidelines with a hurt look on their face as if to ask, “what they did was wrong, mommy (or daddy), are you going to do something about it?” Then generally speaking, with a little encouragement, they would turn back into the rugby/football/basketball/
As soon as that season ended, my child was invited to try out for a competitive soccer team. As we stepped into the tryout space it was painfully obvious that she was going to need to develop skills and not rely so heavily on her speed and natural athletic ability. Though to be fair, those two things did get her noticed to begin with.
She worked hard during practices and then insisted on spending time outside of that to practice different skills that her teammates were doing with practiced confidence. She learned a lot about the positions on the field, about offense and defense, about the positions that she enjoyed playing and those she didn’t like as much. She learned the best way she could contribute to the team at whatever position she was placed.
Watching her play at the end of her first competitive soccer season was markedly different than just a year prior as she played recreational soccer. Even as young kids they could handle the ball like you wouldn’t believe. They knew what a free kick, off-sides or hand-ball meant and as soon as the whistle was blown they quickly positioned themselves to be the most effective for their team. This game was a thrill to watch!
At the end of a few seasons together they looked like miniature versions of professional soccer players. They could warm up and do drills on their own without anyone directing them and telling them what to do—these kids already knew what to do to be most effective.
Those who have played soccer may recognize which game would be the better for them.
Playing on the field with those who don’t have an understanding or the rules of the game as an adult would at the very least be frustrating—though it could be dangerous if someone was on the field who didn’t have control of themselves or what they were doing. Playing this way would inhibit your freedom to excel because of not being able to have the support of the rest of the team. However, if you played with those who had an understanding of how to effectively use your team, it could be a place where your skills or abilities would be able to shine. Playing with those who are disciplined allow the freedom to play well.
I love that God knows best how I am to function because He breathed and formed me into existence. He designed me to flourish in a way that he intended. Thinking about the kids and how they flourish within the limits of disciple and rules reminds me to thank God for His parameters that give me the freedom to really live.
John 8:31-32 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
Father God, help me to share the beauty and blessing in the truth. There was a time when I thought that the truth was limiting and binding. Though I see in this moment what an incredible love you have for me to give me guidance and direction. Without it my life would be and has been utter chaos. Father God, help me to surrender my will to you and lovingly embrace the parameters you set before me so that I can flourish in the abundance that you have for me.