A couple weeks ago I was asked to play a giant game of foursquare at a school pep rally.
I tend to make a fool of myself a lot.
I believe that when we live the Gospel we must be wiling to sacrifice and risk, and sometimes the price is embarrassment. We must not be too concerned about our image or consequences or what others think of us. We must be wiling to put ourselves out there, on the line, no matter the cost.
Ultimately, we must be detached and trust God because the actions that require courage- whether they are bold or subtle- are the ones that build up the reign of God. When we are fearless about being strange and different, we allow God to use us as an instrument. That’s when all sorts of transformations occur- for us and the larger community.
I knew the game of foursquare was going to be a giant gym-sized game with a great big exercise ball, totally unlike what I tried to play on the playground in elementary school. This frightened me a bit.
I have practically no athletic skills. In fact, I am quite uncoordinated and clumsy. A group of students were putting together the faculty team and I figured that they asked me to participate to give the student team an advantage.
Naturally, I was a little freaked out. I was very nervous and scared I would hurt myself and end up in the ER with a broken bone or something. Or worse, maybe I would hurt someone else. Was I really capable of doing this?
Then there were the rules. Despite multiple explanations, I didn’t understand the way the game worked. I basically entered the court clueless about what was happening; I only understood I needed to keep the ball out of the square I was in.
Why did I agree to this potentially humiliating task? In a sense, because I knew that a “yes” to the invitation to participate was a kind of ritual of accepting approval and love of my students. I love my students and am so thankful for the moments when I feel loved by them. I wanted return the love.
Once the game began, I started being surprised. I quickly found out that I was capable and that I enjoyed it! I discovered that I can be ambitious and not intimidated by a crowd of a few hundred students and adults I admire, and just let go and get into it. (When we are living the Gospel we also have to just let go and get into it!)
Transformations were happening all over the place. I was personally surprised and transformed as I discovered that I could play the game well. I found myself having several “dumb luck” moments; I would hit the ball and the crowd would cheer and I didn’t understand why. Basically every time I had success, I shared a gift and heard joy erupt from the crowd: a communal transformation.
In the end, I was very surprised that I could actually play well and I enjoyed playing, too. I was thrilled that my participation brought joy to others and built up the school community. And, it felt great to go around the school building afterward and hear “great job in foursquare Sister! Wow, you’re really good!” Ha!
I guess we never know what God might do with us when we say yes to love, to community, and to making fools of ourselves. In this case and many others, I’ve learned that we just might end up being transformed. Amen!