I’m not talking football here, People. I’m talking the game of life. The strategies of “winning” in life. The adjustments made at halftime when things aren’t going in your favor. The new-and-improved plays to help you move forward towards the goal.
For many of you and for me, life has given us many opportunities for learning and making adjustments in the locker room during halftime. Times when you were completely thrown off because the opponent seemed to have a game plan that was bigger and better than yours. For me, there have been several times I have been completely caught off guard by the events of life and felt as if I was suited up as a Pee Wee football player and the rest of the world had been suited up and trained as NFL players.
As I have gotten older and learned from life’s journey, I have realized that there are positive character traits that can actually become negative character traits very easily if you allow a slight shift to occur. One of the things I have had to stay on top of is worrying about everyone else at all times. Because I tend to want everyone else to be happy, exude contentment, and feel welcome at all times, there have been moments when I have been a prisoner to that desire and couldn’t even enjoy get-togethers or parties I was attending or hosting because I was so worried about that person in the corner who looked miserable or out-of-place. I tended to get so focused on that person that my own enjoyment was blotted out by the eclipse of the other person’s mood. As I have gotten older, I am realizing that there is nothing I can do to make another person enjoy himself or herself. Of course, I am always cordial to people and do my best to make them feel welcome, but it is then up to that person to make a choice to engage with others and, if they want to sit in the corner on the couch moping during a get-together, more power to them. It isn’t my responsibility to make them enjoy themselves. In fact, it is actually unhealthy for me to believe that I, alone, can change that person’s outlook or temperament. Unfortunately, I have allowed others to spoil special events and moments in my life in the past, but I am working on keeping my focus on things under my control which is, namely, my own mind, heart, and attitude.
Another play I have learned in the game of life is that it is okay to be content with simplicity in life. America is not keen on the idea of a simple, non-complicated life. The more activity, the better, it seems. Life for us on Green Acres is very simple. The Outdoorsman and I go to work each day, we take care of our animals, we build shelters and fences for our animals, we do household chores, we eat, we rest, and we relax each night, and then we repeat it all again the next day. The weekend will look differently at times depending on what our three children are participating in or doing at the moment. There are many people who do exciting things and attend exciting events regularly and many people who travel frequently, but we have already done all of that. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I traveled extensively in Europe and the United States. Thank goodness, The Outdoorsman, has also traveled extensively in the past and is equally content with staying put on our thirty-acre farm. Both of us spent months in Europe during our late 20s and early 30s, traveled and skied in Colorado quite frequently, and had every opportunity to go wherever we pleased during those years. Unfortunately, in my early 50s, I have developed some health issues that have caused it to be quite difficult to travel and, thankfully, I am okay with the idea of not traveling frequently at all. The Outdoorsman and I have talked about it a lot and decided that we are perfectly fine with spending most of our days here on Green Acres. Our children are a little surprised that we really don’t have the desire to travel or go anywhere. We are so far from restaurants, malls, and people that we almost always eat at home and spend our evenings walking, taking care of our farm animals, and reading or watching TV before heading to bed. Other people may view us as being pretty boring. People may label as us as “homebodies”, but to be honest, there are only a hand full of places I would even like to see and, maybe someday, I will conjure up the desire to travel again, but for now, I am content with staying close to home. Our life and home are pretty simple and non-eventful, but I wouldn’t want it any other way for now. We are thrilled that we are close enough in proximity to see our children frequently and are able to make quick visits to see them at their universities during these last years in college. That is about the extent of our travel plans for now, but we enjoy those moments with our children immensely.
The last play I am learning to implement in the game of life is the ability to adapt and make adjustments in both my thinking and expectations. This is a difficult one for me. I had no idea how huge and unrealistic my expectations of others have always been until recently. My parents and extended family are outstanding people who are truthful, hard-working, loyal, thoughtful, and kind to others. Because of that, I made the general assumption that all people do all things with integrity and purity of heart. When that doesn’t happen in reality, utter dismay and stress enter into my mind and heart. My mind races day and night to try to understand and fix the “problem” at hand. The unfortunate thing is that the “problem” is usually a person whom I have zero control over in any way, shape, or form. There is absolutely no way for me to fix the way a person acts, reacts, thinks, feels, or says. God is helping me here, Folks. He is helping me to take my focus off of the sinfulness and foolishness of man and focus on my own foolishness of thinking that I can change the heart of men. Only GOD can change the heart of men. ONLY God can change the heart of men. Only God can change the heart of men. The end. Who am I to think I can say or do “the right thing” to cause the change? To be sure, I can speak truth WHEN ASKED to do so. The trouble is that I am rarely asked to do so because people do not want to hear the truth. Instead, people want to hear a person who agrees with them and, therefore, they commonly surround themselves with like-minded thinkers who approve whatever illogical way of thinking is taking shape in their lives.
So, the big game is about to start. There are real stakes on today’s game in the form of money, pride, and loyalty to a favorite team. Should all of America be focused on this game? Of what consequence is it in the scheme of life? Is there anything wrong with watching and cheering for a favorite team? Certainly not. The Outdoorsman spent years in the NFL, the Arena Football League, and college football so you can bet he will be watching The Big Game tonight. He was actually blessed enough to be a part of Super Bowl XXXIV with the Tennessee Titans so, he will definitely be tuned in to the game tonight!! Me? I’ll probably pass by the TV every once in a while to see who’s winning, but that’s about the size of it as far as I am concerned.
On the contrary, for the Game of Life, I’m choosing to spend my time focusing on how to improve my game strategy by becoming better at calling plays, making predictions, and being prepared for the unexpected plays of life. How can I achieve these things? By pursuing God wholeheartedly for the remainder of my life, staying close to Him (the ultimate Coach), and listening for any hints as to new plays and defensive tactics to use in this important game. Having a teachable, pliable heart is of utmost importance in my training. It is, in fact, imperative to my success in this game.
God will show me the way to the goal He has set for me in the end zone. I have no doubt.