Grade school version of “Survivor”

Yesterday the football rankings came out. I’m a Florid State alumna, so I am pleased that we are in the final four. Some of you are not happy with the rankings and others could care less.

But, we have all been involved in rankings or ratings of some kind in our lives. If nothing else, my generation “suffered” at recess when everyone in the class was lined up against the outside wall of our grade school to be selected for a team. Team captains were appointed by the teacher and the process of choosing sides began. Some were always selected first while the rest of us looked at our feet and kicked small rocks on the ground. We were hoping to get selected somewhere in the middle. No matter what, someone was selected last. It was kind of a small kid version of the television show “Survivor.”

I wore leg braces for several years during grade school. With or without the braces, I wasn’t a fast runner. And, with the leg braces I not only wasn’t a fast runner, but the entire class would have to wait for me to get my snow boots off and on every winter day.

The braces looked pretty bad, but, for the most part, they didn’t bother me except for the inconvenience and some “rub” spots that Mom and I would have to work to heal. But, those braces sure bothered others. You couldn’t help but notice them on my little body. The braces started at my hips with a large heavy piece shaped like a “c” around my waist, held fast by a strap and buckle. Cables, sheathed in rubber or something, ran down the sides of my legs, also fastened by straps around my thighs and my calves. And, large, orthopedic shoes were connected at the end of the cables. When I wasn’t wearing the braces, you could see how the shoes were pulled to the sides by the winding of the cables. Some people would stare at me when they saw the braces and others would look away. My family kept me laughing about everything and so my memories are great ones; I thought that it was all pretty cool.

But lining up for kick ball team selection wasn’t cool. There I stood, slowest runner, heavy braces strapped to my legs. (Sounds pretty pitiful, doesn’t it?)

We played a version of kick ball that was a little like baseball. The only differences were that the ball was rolled to a kicker rather than thrown to a batter and the entire class played every inning. The outfield was covered with defensive players. Kicking the ball was a matter of timing. And, since we were kicking a large, red rubber ball, the “pitcher” couldn’t do much to change up their delivery.

What we soon learned that when I was up to kick the ball, I could KICK that rubber ball!! Once I got my timing down, that big old heavy brace on my leg put such tremendous power in my kick that no one else in the entire grade school could match me. That ball flew! And, my slow running didn’t matter; I could make it around the bases in plenty of time before the kids got the ball out of the Presbyterian Church parking lot across the street.

This holiday season, let’s make sure to celebrate with those who were (are?) picked first and those who were (are?) picked last. The love of God makes it always possible for us to find surprise talents and treasures in each other. You see, God’s children are reflections of their Father.

And, if the house seems a little too small at some point during the holidays, go outside and play some kick ball!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13)


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