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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Pride (04/12/04)

TITLE: Squirrels, Golf Balls, and Missed Goals
By Melinda Gonzalez


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 juicy 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 crowd (it was an away game) 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.

Member Comments
Member Date
Leticia Caroccio04/19/04
Sometimes we feel that we can handle things all on our own. Instead, we should be seeking the Lord's help and the support of our sisters and brothers. In my case, when there are important things on the line, my track record shows that I have messed things up on my own. But when I pray with my partners and seek the Lord's guidance the results are quite different. I really enjoyed your story. It made me laugh and think alot. Good job.
Michael Aubrecht04/19/04
This was an outstanding effort. Definitely put a smile on my face. As a sports guy (and sports parent) I can relate!
Kathlyn Fauchon04/20/04
What a good example of pride. Well done. I think when Christians are full of pride they show it by their judgmental attitudes.
L.M. Lee04/20/04
wonderful story and so much of this can be applied to life in so many areas. I've always thought sports was a great way for kids to learn the life lessons...your story proves it...just most people aren't this honest...out loud! :-)
Naomi Deutekom04/20/04
Good job, enjoyable read.
B Price04/21/04
like how you did this story... how we think we can and what is reality.
a very good story, thanks.
Lisa Beaman04/22/04
Nice. I've never been athletic enough to experience that kind of pride... but the "Christianity down pact" part hurt. I think I was guilty of that at lunch today....
Donna Haug04/24/04
Melinda, As an avid basketball player in my younger days, I really enjoyed your story. It's so true that when we lose the 'team' attitude, pride rears its ugly head. The only suggestion I would make would be to reconsider the use of parenthesis. You used it quite often in your story. Maybe you could just incorporate the line within the story itself. IE. "With every shot I missed the crowd (it was an away game) got that much louder" - could read, "Playing on our opponent's court sounded like being in a lion's den as with every shot I missed the crowd got that much louder." Ok, that might be stretching it a bit but the original line sounded a little confusing to me. Good work.