On Friday, Caleb had the opportunity to take part in the team competition
at the Oregon State Chess Tournament.
Before each round, once the players assume their position behind
white or black pieces, they allow parents to assume their own positions and
take pictures of their players.
With some coaxing, I was able to get Caleb to display a smile and
as I was snapping his photo
a coach from another team walked up,
looked from me to the two opponents
flanking the chess board and then his gaze returned to me.
While shaking his head he said,
“Oh, that’s going to be a tough one! But it will be alright.”
At first I didn’t process what he said or meant.
It happened so fast.
As he was patting his hand on my shoulder, I realized
what he was suggesting.
By then it was time to take our seats and let the chess play begin.
Thankfully this man’s comments were not heard by Caleb.
I sat in my chair a bit rattled and sent out a quick text message
to family telling them to pray because Caleb was going to have a tough match.
Why did I send up a smoke signal?
I took the words of a stranger who possessed zero knowledge about the match
in question only his assumptions.
I took his words and branded them to my mind, my heart and my son.
I took his words and made them factual.
Caleb won the match.
Of the two rounds he played on Friday,
he said his first match had been the easiest.
The second match, he found himself in trouble.
His opponent had him in check several times.
He recounted how he decided he was going to
turn the game around and he did.
He was patient and believed in himself.
I am not sharing the fact that Caleb won his first match
to prove the man wrong.
Or even to brag.
I share it because I want to illustrate how easily and quickly
stray and unfiltered words can penetrate my mind.
Has this ever happened to you?
I want to have a broader shield over my thoughts and heart.
In fact, I want to be more like Caleb.
As we were driving home from the tournament, I reluctantly told him
the story of the man and his off-handed remark.
Caleb asked me if I went up to the coach later and told him
he had won.
I said no.
I wanted to
tell him off but I didn’t.
“Mom, you should have told him who I was and
that I am a good chess player.”
Sometimes I forget.
I forget why we named him Caleb.
Caleb means faithful.
We named him Caleb because of the Caleb in the Bible.
Caleb was one of a group of spies tasked to survey the land promised to
The majority of the spies returned with reports of being terrified
because ‘there were giants in the land.”
But Caleb and Joshua believed God was giving them the land
no matter the obstacles placed before their eyes.
We wanted our Caleb to believe His God could
accomplish big things.
I shouldn’t be surprised that he believes big.
He has been faithful to work hard in chess and has
set goals for himself each year.
His faithfulness (and the faithfulness of his coach Richard) are
the reason he was able to stare down an opponent without fear.
The words we say.
The words we hear.
Let’s make it our aim to say words which bring
courage and don’t discourage.
Let’s determine today when we hear a word designed
to defeat, instead we will remember who we are and not
how someone desires to define us.
Otherwise we will always find ourselves in checkmate.
Remember who you are.