Monday, June 21, 2010

Still Be Here

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

This is one of those quotes I lean on a lot. On Saturday, we played our last non-tournament softball game, and I discovered a lot about myself. I've mentioned before that my family is BIG into sports. I mean, we grew up playing baseball, football, kickball, etc. Well, I didn't personally play all those sports, but I was always surrounded by it. There have been many times I've mentioned in conversation that I am not very competitive, but on Saturday I got a better grasp on that statement. I should change it to:

I am pretty competitive deep down inside,
but I don't like being competitive.
It brings out the worst in me.

Now many could argue that a spirit of friendly competition is good because it teaches you to fight to be better than someone else and someone HAS to come out on top the winner, right? Maybe. But I'm not so sure that perspective works best for me. Because that friendly competition for me is never actually very friendly. I realize that deep inside I can become extremely competitive, but when I am, I'm not entirely proud of the things that run through my mind or come out of my mouth. I say hurtful things about others in my mind and I get really angry and determined to make someone else pay for my losses or struggles. This just leaves me a loser in either case.

And what's worse is that no matter what comes out of my mouth or what I repeat over and over in my head, the opponent doesn't receive the full effect of the pain. I do. I cannot tell you how discouraging it is to try to make it to first base without getting out—you hope deep down inside that the short stop will drop the ball or some elf will come snatch it out of his hand and throw it to the outfield . . . I mean really, where ARE my angels in the outfield?? ;P But the damage comes when I walk back to the dugout, upset that I didn't "make the cut." Upset that I wasn't "good enough." I talk myself down and I adopt the theory that I'll never make it. This is just how my mind naturally works. I mean, there are things that I love and things I KNOW I can do well . . . sports . . . just aren't anywhere near the top of the list. Sometimes I really do just accept in my mind that I'll never beat my weakness.

But after the game on Saturday, I took a few moments to sit and think and meditate on where I've come from and I was able to note the different difficulties I've been able to overcome. I realized that it was when I stopped allowing those negative words to become absolute truth that I was able to get headway and work towards overcoming them. It was when I allowed faith to overtake my human perspective that I was able to do something that I'd never been able to do before. For instance, the fact that I actually make contact and hit the ball, as opposed to just standing there, not swinging like I did when I played as a 5th grader . . . which . . . was the last time I'd played before joining the softball team last year. Also, seeing the vast improvements I've made this year as opposed to where I was last year is encouraging.

I realized that somewhere along the way, I made the games about my personal success as it pertained to points and a win, as opposed to being a team player and focusing on the fun moments with the people that mattered. When I focus on the right things, the difficulties become less about the technicalities and measuring sticks, and more about the here and now learning experiences that build strength and a worthwhile season of my life. And amazingly, when I focus on the right things, I get better at clearing the hurdles.*

I'm really looking forward to the tournament this upcoming weekend! And I'm not just saying that to soften the blow because we're not the #1 team—I mean, we're still in the top 3 as of now—but because it'll be the last hurrah for this season. The last chance to make the lives of others more full and more fun. I'll give my best and I'll try with all my might to end every inning with a positive, hopeful thought and do my best to focus on the people that make our team amazing. Some would call that a cop-out, I call that making the most of life's opportunities. If I play defeated, it won't matter what the score is, I'll still be defeated and I don't want to live like that.

*totally mixing up my sports there ;)


Alisa said...

Amanda you are my favorite. I so appreciate your honesty. Keep it up girl and GO SLUGGERS!!

Amanda Bliss Sullivan said...

This article REALLY inspired me! I loved to read your perspective on competitiveness, I am exactly the same way. I avoid competition almost completely, bc I don't like the person that I am inside (and I secretly think others feel the same). And speaking of conquering hurdles and getting out of boxes, I need to do a better job of this as well. I'm so glad to see you facing obstacles and slapping them in the face. It's really inspiring.