Disappointed by Dodge-Ball

“I DON’T WANNA PLAY NO (expletive deleted) DODGE-BALL!” That was the charming response from a teen-aged high school boy who was going to be under my care for the next hour. He had just found out that we weren’t going to play flag football as he had hoped, and obviously…he wasn’t happy about it. Surprisingly, I didn’t take offense at his foul language; his spitting in my face while using that language; nor did I obey the choke reflex that surged within me like an erupting volcano. Instead, I simply walked away and began to setup for the dodge-ball game.

I was participating in the S.O.A.R. after school program at a local high school where I was responsible for intramural sports for one hour on Fridays. We had played flag football the past two Fridays consecutively, so I and the other supervising adults wanted to do something different. We were prepared to play dodge-ball, get the kids some exercise, and have a good time in the process. However, this young man was determined that because his expectation had been disappointed; he wasn’t going to have fun. He sat along the gym wall with a scowl on his face. I thought to myself, “How many times have I been that way?” Have you ever scoffed at the idea of doing something different than what you were used to? Why do we resist change? What’s the benefit of being willing to try something new? I’ll answer those questions for you as I show you what I learned from this…nice student who was disappointed by dodge-ball.

I’m sure the student wasn’t a problem kid. I think the bottom line was that he figured that if he was going to be at the S.O.A.R. program for so long, he at least wanted to have fun. He had fun when we played flag football, but he had never played dodge-ball before. Fear of the unknown – that was the problem. And that’s why we sometimes scoff at the idea of doing something different from our norm. We’re afraid that we won’t enjoy it. My friend there are tons of things that life has to share with us that will make us feel more alive than we have ever felt before. But we must be willing to try something new.

I’ll never forget the look on that kids face as he showed his disappointment about having to play “(expletive deleted) dodge-ball”. But what was even more unforgettable was the look of utter ecstasy on his face as he darted around that gymnasium, hurling balls at the opposing team, hitting his targets with pinpoint accuracy, all while helping his team come back from a one-to-four deficit to tie the game at four! I sat back and watched this incredible transformation with amazement. And then I asked myself this question. How many things have I missed out on that might have given me that much joy, because I wasn’t willing to try something different?

Friend, it’s easy to just sit back and get comfortable with the everyday doldrums that come along with following the old familiar plan; but I encourage you to do the hard thing today. Life is full of wonders, adventures, and other incredible experiences that are just waiting to scintillate our senses. Be bold, brave, and blaze a new trail that might lead you to the unspeakable joy that I saw that young boy’s face that day. Let’s both learn a lesson from this charming young teen, and never allow ourselves to be disappointed by dodge-ball.

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