Jan 29, 2015

We Were All So Young

An old boss of mine used to give me a hard time for still playing ice hockey in my late forties, calling it a “young man’s game”. I’m glad that I never let his good natured ribbing convince me to hang up the skates, but rather still lace them up to play one to two games per week. Not bad for someone who is “too old to play”. Good thing Gordie Howe didn’t listen either or he would not have been playing when he turned sixty eight. 
What I love about being able to still play ice hockey at age fifty six is that even if I have a bad game, it still was good day. A bad day on the ice is still better than not playing at all. I’m also grateful that I have a wife who encourages me to still play; she says that she sees the smile on my face and realizes that in those eyes is a little boy who is ten and is in the Stanley Cup finals as he slips one past an unsuspecting goaltender.
But after I leave the ice and I am removing my clothing, skates, and other equipment…which are now all ten pounds heavier from perspiration from the game…my body reminds me that I am actually fifty six going on sixty.
It’s not that I am out of shape; I actually spend three to four days in the gym both lifting weights and doing cardio in order to stay young. It is that the reality is that none of us old guys are as young as we might think that we are.

This hit home for me today as I was sitting on the bench after a game and removing my skates. The next group of men who had rented the ice were arriving and getting ready for their game. A player from my game started playfully taunting some of the younger players…twenty or thirty somethings…and then said; “Hey I suppose I shouldn’t give you a hard time or else you will beat us up...then again who would you impress by telling that you beat up some mid fifty players who just came off the ice after three hours of playing!”
I hyperbolically made a comment that we could probably take them until I saw them hit the ice and then we all realized that we were not as great as we had thought. We were not as fast, young, or as strong as these young players.
In fact we probably looked like Nathan Gerbe, previously with Buffalo Sabres (who is 5 feet 5 inches, 178 pounds ) standing next to Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins (who is 6 feet 9 inches, 225 pounds-it is said that with his skates on he has to be near 7 feet tall!)
These guys were fresh out of college and they were large and fast and reminded us that we were not spring chicks.
Although we were both totally kidding, I would submit that in each of our lives we, at times, think much higher of ourselves than we ought to and forget that rarely do we really get to see how great we are or are not compared to others who have similar gifts, skills, or talents.
The Bible actually tells us that God hates it when we live prideful lives;  God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6b)
In fact it’s one of the seven things that He hates and are an abomination to Him. (See Proverbs 6:16-20)
Or we think that our accomplishments are all because of us! We live in a narcissistic society that places less on team work and family and more on letting individuality and personal accomplishments drive us well beyond our fifteen minutes of fame that was promised by Andy Warhol into isolated and lonely lives as the limelight slowly fades away. 
The Bible exhorts us:
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)
Perhaps we; like that ten year old boy in our heads, need to realize that we may not be as great as we think we are and we may not be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals; and that’s OK for we were all so young…
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.