I stood before home plate, the heat from the August south Texas sun beaded upon my brow. My gut was wrenched, drawn up tight, hiding behind my rib cage. Two strikes against my oldest brother’s fast ball …… and 3 out of bounds fouls. This was the last chance for my 6 year old brother and I to have a fighting chance against my two oldest brothers. In the final inning, and potentially, the final play of the game, the ball rolled towards me, bouncing as it pulsed across the uneven surface of our front yard. I watched with great anxiety and intensity as it raced towards the dip in the ground, the one that made it bouncy and unpredictable as it barreled towards me. Four bounces once it hit the dip …. Counting, 1, 2 …… 3 … 4. A split second and it’s reached its destination.
I reared back my right leg, with all the severity and force my 38 lbs. could muster. It’s do or die time. This time I’m going to DO!
Competitive sports have never been mine to enjoy. I’ve always been scrawny, weak, the last to be picked for the team. I never really minded. I have never had a competitive, “gotta beat the other guy,” mentality. I’ve never even wanted to be best in my field. In fact, I’m so much more content to be behind the scenes, making things happen in a way that you don’t see me. I’m totally content to be the jack of all trades, but the master of none.
UNLESS, it involves my walk with God or my family.
If you’re curious, I bombed the last play of that kick ball game. Fourth foul got me out. My little brother and I lost the game because I was out of bounds.
Now I know I ended that game on a very undramatic note. I have always remembered that game as such …. Undramatic and lost as usual, due to my lack of strength, control, and ambition …. Nothing new to me at that age.
As God has been dealing with me about personal boundaries these past few weeks, this particular image from the scrapbook of my childhood has replayed over and over again in my head. At first I thought it was about the unfair odds of the two oldest boys against the two youngest, most feeble of the family. I didn’t seem to get anything from that line of thinking, although an entire novel could be written on the meanness of big brothers!
I started thinking about a competitive spirit. Maybe God was telling me I’ve become too competitive and wanting to win something or beat someone out of pride. Or maybe, He was wanting me to obtain that spirit of needing to win. Hahaha, yeah right. That’s not it. For 2 weeks I was stumped. All the noticeable, important factors one could see about that story were not hitting home on what He wanted to show me.
A few days after rejecting the idea I might need a more competitive spirit, we had storms moving through our area. I was remembering how years ago, I had warned my parents, who were vacationing in the Uvalde area one summer, to evacuate when we had lots of rain. I told them, “The little creeks are dry, low areas will flood and expand their boundaries. The river will rise quicker than you can blink. Get out now, before you’re stuck and in danger. “
That one thought had nothing to do with kick ball. It was irrelative to being competitive, winning or losing. It had to do with boundaries.
God said, “Even the mountains and seas have boundaries. How much more so, do you?”
For two months I have been struggling with the unpredicted situation of compromise on personal boundaries as a single parent. I’ve been fighting a stress I didn’t realize was there, until I realized how much I was compromising. The sad part is, I was compromising my own boundaries to accommodate the desires of my child. This makes it ten times worse!
Example: Sam loves games. All games. Card games, video games, computer games, board games. They entertain him because he is an only child. On Holly Mountain, this was curbed to a degree, because I had time and (sometimes) energy, to accommodate and play with him. Since I’ve been working and he’s been in school, there is naturally, less time (and energy) to fill the void that every child has to be entertained. And, like any kid, Sam has always pushed the limits on everything. If I say, “You can’t eat that, it’s not good for you.” He will ask, “Why isn’t it good for me? How much can I eat and get away with before it becomes NOT good for me?” Lately, he has taken this approach on video games. For months he has hounded me about relaxing my standards and personal convictions on violence and language.
To be true to myself and my audience, I have to tell you, I caved. Not just once, but twice. TWO games I knew I didn’t want him to play, I didn’t just let him play, I bought them ……… Thinking I would appease the need, and that would be the end of it. Honestly, I got them just to shut him up. If that’s not good parenting, I don’t know what is, haha ………..
After a few weeks of hearing words that made my ears bleed, repeatedly telling him to skip that, mute this and “just put on your head phones,” because I didn’t want to see or hear ANY of it, he started asking for more. More games that offended every part of MY spirit man.
I became impatient. Stressed. I nagged him about the content (that I allowed him to play, mind you), and complained how he was never content when I gave in just a little. I told him his expectations were WAY out of bounds.
I was wrong.
God told ME, “YOU are way out of MY boundaries.”
My stress was fighting this conviction that I had violated as a parent. I did wrong. I compromised. I had to fix it. But how? I had already given consent. How do you undo bad parenting?!
You ask forgiveness. And you PRAY!
I stopped nagging Sam. It was my fault. It was, pure and simple. So, I quit blaming the kid. I allowed God to re-educate me in the boundaries of yesteryear …… how and why they were/are important. The big question was, HOW to get back to them.
For months I had avoided the subject, got upset at Sam for pushing the limit (literally several times every day) or simply tried to ignore it all together …… Then once I got my heart right, God came through (OF COURSE!) and I got my answer.
Par for the course of our evening, Sam brought up a game he wanted, but knew I wouldn’t approve. Rather than lecture or argue with him, God dropped this simple reply in my heart, which I repeated to Sam.
“Why are you asking me? You already know how I feel. How do YOU feel about the content of this game? Do you think it’s something God would approve of?” He said, “No.” I replied, “Then why are you asking ME? Are you trying to justify doing something you know is wrong just because I said it was ok?” He said, “No.” I said, “If you are old enough to accept Christ as your savior, and old enough to know that what you are asking for isn’t something God would approve of, then I’d say you’re old enough to know it’s God’s will you should be seeking, instead of the faulty judgement of your mother. Pray about it. Instead of asking ME why I hate this stuff so much, maybe you need to ask yourself why you desire it so much. I am not your savior, Jesus is. If I have to make the final call, I will. But I’d like to see you pray through this and see where it leads you first.”
For the first time in months, I had silence from my son on the subject of video games.
As insignificant as a 3 inch sideline might seem, it can make or break the game. I’ve taken back my boundaries. In doing so, I have enabled my son to create his own.
Do justly, love mercy, walk HUMBLY with your God.
~ Sandra K. Yates