When my family reached the last weekend in August, I could feel their weariness. This wasn’t the usual fatigue from trying to lasso every bit of sunshine and recreation. It was a lethargy from repeatedly navigating and bracing for changing conditions and parameters during a typically care-free season.
We had loosely planned a family outing but as the day drew closer, a quick family pulse revealed the previous intentions were neutral. If one person had been enthusiastic, the others would have rallied. This signaled a need to pivot because embracing time together was our priority. I suggested a board game tournament followed by a nacho bar, enthusiasm was instantly restored.
The weather was a sweet spot, not too hot or chilly. Caleb and I arranged our patio table with games ranging from age-old favorites like Trouble, Rack-O, Battleship, and Connect-Four. We played in pairs, set a ten-minute timer, rotated opponents, and added other games as necessary. Each round was scored according to which player won the most games or was in the lead if the game was not completed. Once tabulated, the top winners had a Jenga showdown. Everyone was able to pick a movie sized candy in order of their finish. Then it was time for each of us to create nacho masterpieces.
When Carl and played Battleship, the only words spoken were a location, hit, miss, or the dreaded, you sunk my battleship.
As the buzzer sounded, I was declared the winner by achieving the most hits and sunken ships. By positioning my ships alongside the corners of the board, my strategy to keep out of sight and danger proved successful.
I have employed this same strategy in life as well. I’ve lived trying to either remain hidden or outrun the potential assaults of life. But I never could ignore the whisper reminding me to brace for being caught. This mindset does nothing to perpetuate the gentle, slow, and peaceful life I crave.
It’s demanding, exhausting, and chaotic.
I have been reflecting on the hits and misses of my life, and especially over the last six months. When considering the list of misses, I am flooded with gratitude. However, the hits require effort to exhale from the remembrance of what was given permission to invade my life.
The hits and misses are two-sided markers, etched upon my life history, one part relief and the other a wound at varying stages of healing. But whether the hits landed or missed the target of my life, these events don’t define me nor are my identity.
They don’t get to decide if I continue to carry joy or love or hope in my heart.
They can hurt me but they don’t get to destroy me.
They don’t get to wave a banner over my life proclaiming defeat.
I am determined to pursue peace, not surrender, despite the pieces of shrapnel that remain lodged close to my heart and mind.
I will live in the reality that it is possible and necessary to hold the bitter with the sweet.
It’s commonplace to laugh and cry nearly simultaneously.
Our circumstances no matter how difficult cannot strip away our true identities.
How is the condition of your vessel today?
Has your life felt like a target practice?
Has the constant barrage of hits robbed your joy and peace?
Remember your identity.
You are strong.
You are courageous.
You are someone who perseveres.
You possess everything needed to traverse the waters of trials.
Sometimes you write a list to remind yourself.
Sometimes you share your life hits with another person allowing them to bear witness that your battleship has not sunk.
May our identity not be founded in the hits and misses of this life.
May we reaffirm our belief in our ability to hold harshness and sweetness in unison.
May we recognize the battle is not ours alone.
May we always remember we don’t fight as those without hope.
“And this is why I am suffering as I do. Still, I am not ashamed, for I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day.”
II Timothy 1: 12 (Amplified)