I play in an adult indoor field hockey league. It's mostly comprised of women who played in their high school years. Some are really good. Some aren't. Some just play for exercise.
So I should just state that all of us who play are definitely not 16 anymore. Many of us have had kids, or multiple kids, are in our 30's or 40's, and might not have the most amazing stick work or perfect passing anymore, but when the score is close and the game is about to end, it gets competitive. We all get caught up in the game and everyone really wants to WIN.
In the first game I played last week, the score was very close. We'd score two goals, then the other team would score three. Then we'd score another. Then they'd score another. And so on and so forth, until there were 30 seconds left and we were up by 1 and they scored one last goal to tie the game.
The second game I played, though, was really different. We got SMASHED. I think the final score was 30-5 or something like that. We completely got our butts kicked.
You know what I noticed in that game? We didn't celebrate our goals as much. Things just got a little more quiet and a little more tense. The people who scored the goals didn't shout "YES!!" as much when the ball finally made it into the net. There weren't as many high fives for a nice shot. No one was really saying, "Great shot! Nice pass! Good job" when the shot went in.
And as I was ironing my clothes the next morning for church, I started thinking about that game. Because I was thinking about something else, too. I had gotten upset on Saturday night at something someone had said to me. I had assumed she was saying a slightly passive-aggressive comment, that she was saying a whole lot more under her statement than the few words she used. And it bothered me. But then as I prayed about it off and on throughout the evening, and as I told God in the morning that I have a very bad habit of concluding too much and reading too much into what people say, and that I was sorry for doing that to this poor girl, that I'm way to easily offended, my heart towards this person started to change. I wanted to look for things to enjoy about her, instead of being hurt and defensive. I wanted to interact with her with compassion and kindness, understanding that she's a person just like me with a whole world of emotions inside.
When I had this experience, all of the sudden, I realized that God is changing me. Little by little. It seems slow. It seems like I'll never be set free from the chains that I've been bound up in for most of my life. I feel like I'll never get past the wrong conclusions I made as a little girl and the methods I adopted to keep myself safe. But the truth is, little by little, He is changing me. And that Sunday morning, as I ironed my clothes, I got to see my heart change towards a friend, and that is a VICTORY!
Sometimes life can feel like that second field hockey game last weekend. There are seasons when it can feel like we're getting our butts kicked. Like the victories are too few, and the goals being scored against us just keep coming. And so we might want to quiet down and tense up and forget to celebrate the goals. Because sometimes it feels like there's so little chang,e in the light of so many things that need to be changed. Or I'm just so stinkin' messed up.
But why the heck NOT celebrate??? It's a GOAL! It's a VICTORY! Little though it may be, it's still a goal. And it's worth celebrating.
So whether it's a change of heart towards a friend, or remembering Jesus in the middle of the day when I'd usually be caught up in the mundane, or choosing to turn my needy heart to God instead of something else that promises comfort like food, or Facebook, or some 'me-time,' or even having an awareness of my sin that I didn't have before, I'm going to try to celebrate it. It's the movement of God's kingdom into my life, and it's really worth celebrating. And the even more exciting thing is that, unlike my field hockey game last week, when the ultimate 'end of the game' comes, I won't be smashed. I already know the promises that God has made to change me to be like Him, and I know that He will win.