Monday, December 8, 2003


I can still remember it like it was yesterday... PE class -- Picking teams for Basketball or Football (or any other sport for that matter). We would begin by doing the typical lineup. First the captains would be chosen by the teacher. And then the elimination process would begin.

The captains would begin by choosing the obvious ones. This is the most crucial part of the team picking process. These first-chosen-ones were the real determiners of the outcome of whatever the competition of the day was. They were those elite few that could perform dazzling miracles with their athletic prowess. These few would be snatched up at lightning speed -- Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! They are all picked, leaving the rest of us in bewildered amazement. Then the excitement would begin to build as we eagerly anticipated the possibilities of the forming teams. While the elite were being picked, you could hear different vocal sounds of "yes!" and "oh yeah, baby!" or "dude!" by the new fellow teammates. At the same time there are exclaimations of "aw, man!" and "crud!" or "dude!" coming from the other team. ("Dude!" is an exclaimation that has many possibilities. Depending on the how the emphasis is placed on the different vowels or consanants.)

And then there would be the other athletes. These do not fall into the elite category, but they are still able to perform their required function. These team members are chosen with a little more hesitation, as the captains confer with their chosen elite force. One by one, the rest are picked away. Finally the picking is done... or is it?

Every player is ready to start the game. They are wanting to walk away and get set up, deciding who is going to guard who, and what plays need to be run. The strategies are being set into motion based on the opposition. But wait! There are still a few players standing there.

Now if any of you readers have ever been in this position, you know that there is almost nothing that feels worse than being chosen last. Being chosen last is hurtful and humiliating. I think though that the hurt what hurts is less about the order of choosing, and more about the motive of the choosing. And when you know that someone chose you out of obligation, it is not a pleasant feeling.

Like when you are getting a lab partner, and you see the look on your new partner's face when they find out it will be you they are working with for the durartion of the project... not a good feeling!

Now don't get me wrong, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with obligation. What makes the obligation bad is when it is not received with open arms! Let me give you an example: I have two sons -- I had no idea what I was going to get when they came along. I did not get to see a line-up of children and get to pick the ones on my team. They were stuck there. There is without a doubt an obligation to take care of and love these children. In the case with children, the obligation doesn't diminish the value of the love, especially when the parent treats the child like they were a gift that they didn't deserve to receive.

I have observed this in my classes. There is always that one sweet girl, or that one kind-hearted guy, that will be excited no matter who they are put with! They receive each new person in their lives like they are the most valued player on the team! People like that are rare, and I believe that there is a great reward awaiting them.

But I still can't get away from my past. Most of the time, I found myself in that last group. Standing around, looking down at my feet. Fortunately, I was buddies with all of the elite, so they wouldn't leave me to the very end, unless they were mad at me for something. But that "chosen solely out of obligation" feeling has always lingered.

I don't like those situations where I am only there because of someone's supposed obligation. If you don't really, really want me there, don't invite me! And especially don't act like you want me around, when you really don't. I can see right through that, just like most other people. Social settings when people invite you because they don't want to offend you, ugh! That just puts a bad taste in my mouth!

But man, it feels good to get chosen. When students come to me because they feel that I will be understanding. When coworkers want me to be their partner, because they know that I will give my best, while making the work a little easier to bear. When I am asked to do something silly because the students think that I am funny. When my boss chooses me to take the heavy responsibility, be the crew leader or the driver, because they know that I will do a good job, and will give it my best. When students or others come to me for spiritual advice or Biblical wisdom, because they have trust that God is working in my life, and they know they will get a truthful, practical answer. When When my boys isolate me in a crowd, and yell "daddy!" When my family gets excited to hear when I am coming home for the day, because to them, I make the day! When my wife chooses me above all others, prefers my company, my personality... To know that there is a this person that would, regardless of obligation, want to spend her time, life, and energy with me -- now that's good! Nothing feels better than to be chosen!

Honey, I choose you, and thanks for continuing to choose me, even when you don't have to.

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