I Am Terrible at Basketball

I am terrible at basketball. I enjoyed playing basketball when I was younger, but I was not gifted with the particular skills or talents necessary to be considered a basketball player—by any stretch of the imagination. I tried out for the basketball team in the 7th grade. I made the C-Team, along with everyone else who couldn’t play, and we would have “games” once a week that would end in scores like 11-4. Fast forward a few years to my senior year of high school. It was the tradition at San Marcos High School for the graduating class of seniors to challenge the faculty to a basketball game. The entire school got to come and watch. The faculty won every year…by design. The teachers who loved basketball could opt in and they’d play and practice together before the big event. The student team was different. Anyone and everyone who wanted to play got to play, so if 75 seniors signed up, then all 75 of them got to play in the game…but it was a 40 minute game broken into 10 minute quarters. That meant that every player got roughly 2 minutes and 40 seconds of playing time and each player was thrown onto the court in the order they signed up…with 4 other random people you might not even know. The team-swap didn’t even wait for a timeout…it was more like hockey…five roll on while five roll off while the teachers go score… A completely fair and rational setup…if you were a teacher…

As expected, the teachers were off to a great start. Every now and then one of the varsity basketball players would get their 2:40 of fame and score a few baskets, but besides that, it was just a downhill struggle. I decided that I was going to go out and do everything I could to stop the teachers from scoring…I couldn’t shoot, but I could make up for it with energy and enthusiasm and I could get in the way. My time drew near. The teachers pushed the ball up and started passing the ball around the perimeter. The teacher pushed my group and me out onto the court. One of the coaches caught the ball behind the three-point line at the top of the arc and was squaring up to take his shot in the middle of our line change. I was running up from behind and I knew he was never going to see me coming. The crowd sensed what was next. I was about to release my inner Shaq on this guy. Just as I reached out throw down the greatest block anyone had ever seen, they all held their breaths, ready to explode to raucous applause.

And then…my feet…my stupid…too big for my body…can’t keep up…always stubbing my toe…feet…tripped up on the approach and instead of posterizing a coach, I flew past him as I tumbled to the floor. The crowd roared, but not for the reason I’d intended. For the next 2:35, my team went out of their way to make sure I didn’t get the ball. When my time was up, I walked off the court, and retired from my illustrious career as a basketball enthusiast to pursue other endeavors.

This probably isn’t the most humiliating thing that I’ve ever done, but it comes close. Twenty years later I don’t think about it very often, but every now and then, the memory creeps in. It popped in my head the other day while I was considering the ways that our church is starting to make a shift towards neighboring as a way of engaging our community authentically and faithfully. As we’ve begun to dream about how mindsets of Abundance, Relationships, and Joy can transform communities through the recognition, empowerment, and commissioning of our neighbors to use the many gifts God has blessed them with. If we really believe that “Together, we have all we need,” then neighboring is the way to get us to live into that reality. We’ve thrown a lot of ideas at the wall. Some dreams have been *HUGE* and ambitious. Other ideas have fallen in the ‘low-risk/rewards’ category. We’re still waiting to see what ideas stick and which ones don’t.

In the waiting, I catch glimpses of myself that day on the floor of the basketball court. What if it doesn’t work out? What if it fails miserably? What if nobody gets on board? This could be really embarrassing…and yet, I’m reminded, those fears arise from a scarcity mindset, not one of abundance.  Some ideas may end with swallowing pride and moving on, others may flourish, excite and energize. We won’t know until we give space to try a few out and see where God leads us. There is no shortage of opportunities. God is calling us to be a part of something life-giving and transformative. I can’t wait to see what it is–even if I have to eat some humble pie along the way.

The good news is that all along the way, there are bright spots—places to celebrate where God’s been at work. Our relationships with our Adopt-a-Schools are as strong as they’ve ever been (I’ve even been invited to visit a 6th grade class at Bellaire and share about community engagement). Nancy Welton reported that the Neighboring Team hula hooping with kids at Hurst Family Movie night was a special kind of blessing. The collaborative work that we accomplished with Mission Central to reinvigorate the Canafax Golf Scramble injected a lot of joy and energy into work that had begun feel as if it was growing dull. The Neighbor Well volunteer training is coming together and helping to shape and prepare us as a community to create safe space for all to thrive. God is at work! New things are springing up all around, and the invitation, as always, is to join in with God and our neighbors to see it blossom.

Abundance ∙ Relationships ∙ Joy

All day. Every day.

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