Squirrels, Golf Balls, and Missed Goals
by Melinda Gonzalez
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As a child I always loved to run. My parents were perfectly happy with this, after all, it cost them nothing to send me loose into the park to chase the squirrels and flying golf balls. It wasn’t until seventh grade when I grew five inches and my vision slowly went from 20/20 to 30/30 that running became a more dangerous sport. I was now too tall and lanky to outrun the squirrels - who can be quite aggressive when your taunting them with a succulent pecan - while my big head became the perfect barricade for the runaway golf balls.
I was forced to run into the safety of the basketball gymnasium, and it was there that I discovered I was closer to the net then many of the other girls. This did not however guarantee success, as my coach later stated “I don’t think she realized the ball was round”. I seemed to aim and hit everything but the net ... the concession stand table, the glass window (which was thought to be secure five feet above the net), the bleachers - and its occupants, and on occasion the other teams goal. It took several months of late-night practices but eventually, with the help of vision correction contacts and weight training, my shooting ability improved and I no longer fell every time an unsuspecting pass was thrown my way.
In two years I made captain of my basketball team and was finally making more goals then I missed. It wasn’t long before I began to realize I was the best shooter on the team, and then began to think I was the best player on the team, and finally convinced myself I was the team. It became normal for me to play an entire game without sitting out, with the exception of a few water breaks. It was during a game against our rival team that my shot was off-key, and anyone who has ever played a game of basketball and missed 20 shots in a row knows once its off-key it’s hard to get your shot back. The more shots I missed the more shots I attempted. I could tell from the sweat rolling off my coach’s forehead I was making him angry. He repeatedly told me to pass the ball, my shot would come again if I calmed down. With every shot I missed the opposing teams fans got that much louder, until I could no longer distinguish my coach shouting “don’t shoot, pass” and the crowd’s shouting “shoot, you’ll miss!”. I had several opportunities to pass to open teammates, but I opted to continue to humiliate myself.
The final draw came with ten seconds left in the third quarter when, instead of passing to an extremely open teammate, I threw up a half court shot I just knew I could make. I made the shot alright ... right into the chilli crock pot. We not only lost two easy points, we lost the entire pot of chilli .. which meant there would be no "Mama Ninfa" nachos for anyone. The coach sat me out for the rest of the game. I was steaming and refused to talk to anyone as I felt tears begin to dribble down my face. We lost the game by six points and I sat on the bench in disbelief as the happy but hungry crowd filed out of the building. I knew I had messed up, and as I watched my fellow losing team mates slowly drag themselves into the locker room I felt an overwhelming sense of dread. I realized I was not upset because we lost, I was upset because my pride was hurt. Having grown up in a Christian home I knew this wasn’t right. When I went home I prayed to God to forgive me for being so selfish and asked that he help me change. It took a while but I discovered I had a lot more fun when I was rooting for our team, and not myself.
In Christianity I believe we do the same thing. Those who have been Christians for a long time sometimes get in the habit of believing they have Christianity down pact, and thus become prideful. We sometimes forget the days when we were sinful, fragile, and weeping children searching for something to fulfill us. Most of us became Christians when things were bad, and not when everything was peachy and rosy. So with this is mind we, as Christians, must remember not to be prideful when doing good deeds or fulfilling our Christian duties. We are not perfect and still need God, doing something right does not merit a prideful heart. With this in mind let’s show God we have pride in him, but not ourselves … the results will astound you.
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Excellent story - you have a clear voice and draw the reader into the action. The message is clear and brought clearly to the reader through your choice of illustration.