It’s the game that 90% of us loved in middle school. It’s the game we begged to play on most gym days. It’s the game that got our adrenaline flowing, caused us to break a sweat, and tended to raise our excitement and anxiety levels all at the same time. That game is called dodge ball.
Yes…dodge ball. The game where there are basically two rules. Person A throws the ball at Person B. Person B does everything in his/her power to dodge (avoid, sidestep, elude, evade) said speeding ball. Throwing and dodging—that’s about it. (And by the way, we didn’t play with these wimpy, little, soft, light-as-a-feather balls. We played with the real deal rubber playground balls. And those things could really sting, especially if you got nailed by one of the balls that the boys threw.)
Hence the name DODGE ball. Who wants to get hit by a flying ball of red rubber terror at about 50 mph? Believe me, I had my fair share of red marks that lasted hours after gym class. I apparently wasn’t a very good dodger back then.
But in my adult life, I’ve become a great dodger. One of my dearest friends tells me this all the time. She’ll ask a question—perhaps a bit personal or challenging in nature—and I’ll dodge it. Or I’ll be faced with a situation where I know I need to have a hard conversation or perhaps do something uncomfortable, so I’ll dodge it. I’ll avoid it, sidestep it, or evade it at all costs. I have avoidance issues. I’m a dodger.
Can you relate? I was having this conversation with my oldest son recently. Unfortunately he has taken after his mother :-). I was telling him there will always be things in our lives that we want to dodge. There will always be situations or people or projects that we’d rather avoid because of inevitable pain or discomfort or struggle. But the thing is, instead of dodging, we’ve got to find a way to meet those things head on, face into them, pray through them, overcome them, and deal with the red mark they will leave.
Simply put, friends, there is no growth without struggle. And the things we avoid today will not only be there tomorrow, but very well could fester and grow into a much bigger ball with a much bigger sting.
I wonder if the real issue might not be what we’re running away from, but what we’re running to. If I’m dodging the pain or struggle or discomfort of one thing, the odds are that I’m engaging in something else. These things could either be constructive or destructive. But either way, in our avoidance mode, the thing that needs to be addressed still isn’t getting the proper focus or attention. We continue to dodge while relationships suffer, projects pile up, bills go unpaid, conflict remains unresolved, emotions continue to roller coaster, cracks become chasms, and any hope of progress or change becomes nonexistent.
Here’s my challenge for you this week: Be obedient to what God is calling you to do. Follow through on the things the Spirit of God is prompting you to do. Stop dodging. Stop avoiding what He wants you to accomplish and overcome. Begin the project. Make the hard phone call. Ask for forgiveness. Take the first step. Admit you need help. Name the obstacle and face into it. Pray your way through the first step…then the next. Embrace the struggle. Deal with the red marks. After all, the red marks produce toughness and tenacity.
In the dodge ball game of life, it’s not the last one standing that wins, for he is the “master dodger”—he has learned nothing, gained nothing, improved nothing. No, it’s the first one out—who didn’t dodge and has the mark to prove it—that comes out ahead in the long run.