Monday, January 3, 2011

Wrestling Adventures Chapter I

Just say the word wrestling and instantly a reel of images begins playing in my mind (I would imagine we are sharing some of the same images right now.).

Everything from my four boys wearing out the living room carpet to memories of my brothers jogging in 17 layers of sweats at 5 a.m. just to make weight before a meet.

I remember being dragged to their meets by my parents and sitting in the stands bored to death and a little grossed out by the stinky smell of sweat and old mats, the unbearably uncomfortable looking maneuvers the wrestlers placed on each other and of course, I could not fail to mention the athletic attire.  Oh, you know - that odd looking piece of spandex that looks like a bathing suit from the 1920 gone wrong - way wrong. It's called a singlet.  For that reason alone, I vowed I would encourage my boys in any athletic direction, be it shuffleboard or bowling, but they would never - ever - ever - never - ever wrestle.

Fast forward 20 years.  Wrong.  They're wrestling.
Last weekend we went to their very first tournament.  None of the boys had taken part in any wrestling event before, and had just started practicing a couple of months ago, so it was new for them, and really new for me as a parent.
What I couldn't "get" as an adolescent sister I clearly understood as a parent that day - wrestling has nothing to do with stinky mats, pretzel-positions and singlets and everything to do with determination, strength of mind, body and heart, focus, courage, sportsmanship and even self-control.  And, what avenue of life will a man, young or old, take where these virtues, these gifts, these acts of the will will not be of vital importance for success to be achieved? For leadership to be sound? For fatherhood to image the Father? For friendships to be honorable? For courtship to be pure?  For heaven to be desired and attained????
Of course these thoughts were not swirling around in my noggin during the meet - I was in company with all of the other maniacal life-bearers cheering at the top of my lungs while trying to juggle the camera with sweaty palms.

But, be it wrestling or football - or yes, even bowling or shuffleboard - it's an objective truth that God has made boys to move, to play, to compete, to seek out the battle, to move-in, to conquer.  So, while they need to sit studiously and read great books and even learn to set the table properly, they also need to know how fight - not with fists and words - but from that interior place that speaks to them now as boys and forever as men.  The place that reacts to injustice, danger, essence to sin. The place that resonates deeply, unquestionably...the place that is the soul of authentic masculinity.  And, as parents, when we give them time to wrestle in the living room and knock our thrift store lamps over, we help them find that place.
To know it.
 To live it.
To believe in it.
And, to come out victorious, whether it be on the mat, the court, or the field is just a small taste of the most important victory we can ever hope to experience - the final victory.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
- Philippians 3:12-14

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