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Jesus in the Bleachers

I have heard confession is healthy for the soul, so here goes: I’m addicted to a Nintendo Wii baseball game.

More specifically, I am addicted to the “training” program where the object of the game is to hit as many homeruns as possible and achieve the longest hitting distance. The game is simple in theory: the pitcher throws you ten equally perfect pitches and all you have to do is swing at the right time and hit a homerun. I know- it sounds very easy. The problem for me is, my friend has the high score and tonight I tried to beat it. I tried over and over.

And over and over. At one point, I started talking to myself out loud: “They’ve rigged the game! If I get nine homeruns, they throw the last pitch faster so I can’t hit it!” I whined in frustration. I said this while motioning my hand towards the TV, not even noticing no one was listening, that is of course, because I was the only one in the room. My obsession got to the point where I had to limit myself to, “Five more games”, or else I knew things were going to get really ugly. I say: “really” because, well, I think we can all agree that if someone wants to accomplish something that insignificant that badly, then things have already gotten ugly.

Yet in the moment, the achievement that I had the possibility of accomplishing wasn’t insignificant. Because of course, it wasn’t really about the game- it was about me; and in my highly ego-centric view, that was a very important reason to keep playing. I was determined to be the best. As I grew increasingly frustrated over my repeated failure to hit ten homeruns in a row, I thought to myself: “This is the story of my life! I am always trying to prove myself, always trying to show others that I am a somebody.” It was true. In many different ways, my life is largely organized around the motive of showing people that I am someone worthy of their praise and recognition. I am my own marketing agency.

As I thought more of the analogy, I wondered where God would fit into it. Would he be the pitcher? Does God toss me a plethora of perfectly suited opportunities for me to show the world how great I am? Umm, no, that couldn’t be right because the last time I checked, God opposed the proud and the arrogant. So where was he? Then it hit me, harder than I was trying to hit those baseballs. Jesus was in the bleachers.

I could see Jesus there so clearly. He was sitting comfortably in the second deck, balancing a hot dog in one hand and his favourite drink (with two straws in it) in the other, along with a large order of nachos and cheese resting in his lap. He wasn’t cheering me on, that is for sure. Yet, he wasn’t angry or frustrated with me either. He just sat there watching me, occasionally staring at a nacho chip in his hand before eating it. He simply waited patiently for me to finish.

And there I was, sweaty palms, gritting teeth, tightly-clenched bat, trying to hit ten homeruns in a row, trying so desperately, so very desperately to be the best. To prove to everybody watching, that I am a “somebody”- a person of worth. To prove to you that I am as interesting as my Facebook or MySpace profile seems to suggest. Trying so desperately to show you I am worthy of your love.

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I guess that is what all my striving has come down to. The desire for love and acceptance. Ironically, Love incarnate is in the stands, waiting for me to finish performing for everybody’s applause. Including his own of course. Oh how I yearn for God’s applause. I long for God to be proud of me. I want to “Do great things for God” like [insert popular Christian here], in order to show God how much I must love him. Or maybe more truthfully, to show God I am worthy of his love.

God’s unconditional love of me: How can one of the most refreshing and liberating things in the world be one of the most difficult things to believe and accept? I mean, sure, I will verbally acknowledge the fact that “God loves me”, but do I truly believe it? Do I even believe that God simply likes me? Does he like me just as much as the famous Christians who seem to be doing things that God seems really involved in; the Christians that seem to be hitting “homeruns” left, right and center.

I wish this confession resolved nicely in the end, but it doesn’t. For most of my life, I have always tried to resolve things, so as to seem to have more answers about my faith than questions, but I don’t want to do that anymore. In all likelihood, I will go on tomorrow and in some way try to earn other’s and God’s approval until the day I truly believe He loves me without condition. Until I truly accept that what other people think of me bears no reflection on who I really am in God’s eyes. Until I embrace the truth that Jesus simply wants me to put down my bat, walk towards the second deck bleachers, and share some nachos with Him. Basking in His company with the confidence that He enjoys being with me, and likes me, no matter how many homeruns I hit.

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