Face the Whistle
My sons play competitive sports – soccer and basketball and baseball. They are decent athletes and it seems like at least one of them has a ball on their foot or in their hands at any given time. I find myself removing balls (or objects they decide to use as a ball… don’t ask) from them and throwing them outside incessantly.
There is a lot of testosterone in my house, which is very unlike the house I grew up in with four sisters and no brothers. Apparently God has a sense of humor.
There is also a lot of punching, wrestling, scuffs and marks on walls, and broken objects.
In other words, there is a lot of poor decision-making, and a lot of fun!
I am always amazed when I watch their sporting events. They will be sprinting down the court or field, either anticipating a pass or getting ready to send one, and all of a sudden this great momentum will come to a halt at the simple sound of a stranger’s whistle.
The referee has called foul. Or out of bounds.
And everyone stops.
It amazes me. The whistle blows, and suddenly an entire team of testosterone stops, stands still, listens, and waits for the call. It dumbfounds me, as I often can’t get my boys to stop whatever craziness they are up to unless I scream at the top of my lungs, threaten the loss of all electronics, or sometimes physically stand in their way.
I’m told someday I will miss their craziness and their smelliness and their rough and tumble ways. For now, I’m drinking wine and saying a lot of nightly prayers.
I have to tell you there are many times when I need a referee. I need someone to blow a whistle on my life and my sprints and my plays. I need someone to say, “Sorry, sister, but you stepped out of bounds.” I need to face the whistle.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I can see the referee. He is running beside me saying, “Slow down there, brave one. Start the play over. Hand the ball to the other team for a bit.” But often, like my sons, I don’t listen until someone is yelling in my face.
One of the most difficult things I must face each day is whether I stop and face the whistle, or decide to drown it out. I can ignore the whistle with more work, with ice cream, with wine, or with scrolling social media.
Or I can face the whistle.
Sometimes the whistle is calling out my doubt. Asking me to stop and process it. Or a frustrating work experience. Fatigue. Burnout. Anxiety about a new venture. Fear of failure. Fear of an unknown future. Past failure. Past mistakes. Feelings of inadequacy. Imperfection. Failed relationships.
Can you relate?
It is much easier to ignore the whistle and keep on playing. Stopping and listening to the referee, and facing the whistle… processing the foul… well, let’s get real.
It sucks to face the whistle and process our weaknesses and struggles at the end of our day when it is much easier ignore it.
I promise you, I know. I am right there with you. I challenge you to stop the play in motion and face the whistle. Learn from the ref. Adjust. Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Put down the ice cream. Put down the wine. Take a moment and face the whistle.
How your game ends may depend on it.