One of my favorite moments of the week is driving home from Sunday night soccer. I'm hot and sweaty, usually sore from those muscles I don't use much and from wherever the ball hit me (tonight I took only one blast to the shoulder, not bad at all). I'm exhausted and it's late and I need to get home and sleep before starting another emotionally grueling week at CFH. But-
My eyes are wide open and my head is clearer than it ever is otherwise. My whole body is alive and I feel stronger, more confident. The air is fresh and cool and I cruise along listening to the Back Porch and thinking how much I love these friends that I play with. When I get home and walk up to the front door, I can even feel how I am walking differently - maybe even a little swagger.
(The next day at work I make a big deal of how sore I am and especially any bruises I got. Oh yeah, played soccer last night, yeah, I play pretty hard. Check out this bruise ...)
I'm sure this is not unusual, I bet all of you sporty people out there have known this feeling your entire lives. But there's a whole lot of us out there who grew up not knowing it. For years, all that sports meant to me was being laughed at or, at best, being kindly tolerated by teammates who just wished I was not on their team. Sports always made me want to cry and sometimes I did cry.
When the opportunity came up last summer to play soccer with my friends once a week, I knew I had to do it. The Lord wants us to be free and even though I did not want to get out on that field, I knew the Lord wanted to free me. So I played. And I still wanted to cry, and I did cry at least once, but I kept going.
And now - well, actually, I scored my first goal tonight. And that was pretty awesome, but it hardly matters, because the victory for me is driving to the Center even when I'm tired and don't feel like playing ... getting out there and running around and making a lot of bad passes and letting goals go by and getting hit in the face sometimes and feeling sick to my stomach ... and using the healthy body the Lord gave me and sometimes making good passes and sometimes blocking the goal and always laughing.
I laugh when Muzati picks up the ball with his hands, when Peter makes some kind of hyena scream as he runs toward the goal, when Sarah collides with Kyle, when the ball rolls by me because I'm busy talking to Catherine. And then in my car, sore and tired and sweaty, I just smile the whole way home.