Swish! Don’t you wish that life was like that every day? One goal…One victory…One slam dunk after another…
No embarrassment, no mistakes, no regrets…One score in life to the next with your feet lifted off of the ground, defying gravity…Flying like a bird in flight as you effortlessly slam dunk every hurdle in your path…while everyone around cheers your name…
Yeah…that would be nice.
Pete, the Puzzle Piece, hoped for the same thing. After the initial singing failure, he decided to try a new hobby…One that would also take courage and maybe some bumps along the way…He is about to step onto the basketball court to talk to the most popular puzzle piece in town…Thoughts racing in his mind:
What does that even feel like? I couldn’t even identify with that…
Bobby, the basketball player, certainly could. At this point in my story, the part where I decided to go from being a spectator on the basketball court to playing the game, I barely knew Bobby. But he sure seemed to have it all together. He must have the highlight reel kind of life…The kind of life where there are no tears, struggles, failures, or feelings of loneliness whatsoever…Because when everyone wants your attention like Bobby, life must be great! If there was a birthday party, no doubt Bobby was invited. He would be at the top of the list. If people picked teams in P.E., he would be the captain. Bobby was the “popular” puzzle piece. Whatever that means…Fast forward to another part of my story, and I will finally understand that no one has a perfect life, including Bobby.
All I knew in this moment…the moment I decided to step on the basketball court with the basketball star was that Bobby and I were nothing like each other. You could have called us opposites in every way.
I walked up to him while he was dribbling the ball…He shoots…He scores. Not even breaking a sweat…The sound of the swish…I stood mesmerized as I watched the basketball sink into the basket…In a weird way, that described the sinking feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach, but not in a good way.
Looking down at my shoes, I took one step in front of the other again until I arrived near where Bobby was standing.
“Bobby,” I said, trying to sound confident.
“Yes, Pete.” He said.
“Would you like to play a game with me?”…
A brief pause followed by, “Sure, I didn’t know you played basketball.” (Did Bobby sound surprised?, I couldn’t tell…)
“Well, it’s a new hobby,” I said.
My feet suddenly felt like lead.
Bobby took the ball to the top of the key, dribbled the ball, jumped, and immediately slam dunked the basketball right in the hoop! Everyone around clapped and said, “Way to go, Bobby!” “That’s our champ!”
Realizing we had drawn a crowd who seemed to become quite interested in the fact that I had taken up a new hobby, I nervously took the ball out to the top of the key to begin my approach to the basket.
My moment came! If I make this basket…If I score against Bobby, I will be popular, maybe even more popular than him! I started daydreaming about everyone clapping my hands, giving me fistbumps, inviting me to their parties…I got lost in my thoughts.
“Pete, are you going to keep standing there?” Bobby interrupted my daydream.
“Let’s play!” I said.
But, as I approached the basket, something unexpected happened. Nothing like my daydream!
I tripped, yes, tripped on my shoelace!
To try to cover my embarrassment, I threw the basketball, and as I watched it fly in the air, hoping for some contact with the rim of the basket or goal…the ball flew way beyond the goal and landed several feet away.
Bobby’s expression said it all. This look of shock as he realized that that had never happened to him!
It wasn’t the expression that bothered me, but the snickering that echoed the “Epic Fail” I had just endured. This solidified that I had come up very short with the star athlete in town. The laughter from the crowd confirmed what I already knew in my head: “What were you even thinking of asking Bobby to play you in basketball?”
As the ball missed the basket, everything seemed like it was going in slow motion, which made this incredible embarrassment last even longer than I had wanted. I felt that that perfectly described my life at this point…utter failure and stopping short of the goal.
If only I knew then that scoring a basket…being popular does not define my worth. Just because someone may look like they have it all together doesn’t mean they have an easy life…If at first, you don’t succeed, maybe try again that becoming a pro like Bobby requires dedication and hard work, and maybe I should practice more if this was a hobby that I was interested in doing…Which it wasn’t.
But, all I could think about as I heard the laughter in the background during what I call “Embarrassment 102” was the desperation I felt to be noticed, appreciated, and recognized for being good at something…
So, as I looked up at Bobby, with a red face that I blamed on running, instead of total embarrassment, I told him that I suddenly remembered I had to go help a friend, and I ran off the court as fast as possible.
Abby, the artist, seems so nice; hopefully, I will be good at art, just like her.
And, with that, I was off to try my hand at painting, And, maybe just maybe, I will find where I fit.
I do not need to compare myself to anyone else. I am special because God created me.
Parent’s Talking Points:
After talking about the importance of avoiding comparison with your child, declare these truths aloud with them.
- “I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and He always loves me, regardless of my successes or failures.”
- “I will trust in God’s plan for my life and not let fear of embarrassment stop me from pursuing His calling on my life.”
- “I will seek to grow in my faith and character, and not compare myself to others’ successes and failures, but rather focus on living a life pleasing to God.”