Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's not about the game

The first scrimmage is behind us. School has started. Our meal money stretches a little farther as Wayne is now eating three meals a day at the field house...except of course on Sunday when he eats breakfast with us! Our nights end with us hoping that he gets home around 9pm so that he can put the girls to bed and talk to them each for a few minutes. This is even on the weekends. Our updates on him will come from Cassie who sees him across the hall before her Statistics class.

Email is now the best way for me to contact him and I'm getting back in the groove of putting together my top three list...what I absolutely need to tell him vs. what I might just want him to know. Lots of things that are normally his concern become mine...minor repairs, dealing with bills, lawn care, most discipline issues, school forms and meetings, homework help, budgeting...He'll do it when he can and would love to do it more, but he's just not here. So, I try to whittle the list down of what I truly need his help on when just a few weeks ago I would talk to him about everything.

This life isn't unusual for many women across the state. There are more than 15,000 coaches in Texas public schools. And college and pro coaches make our husbands' schedules look good. More than that, there are lots of doctors taking call this week, leaving wives and little ones wondering if they dreamed that they heard him come in last night. There are firefighters who are leaving home, literally, for days. I know so many women whose husbands are gone for over a year to Iraq and Afghanistan, whose lives are in danger every day.

But notice something about that last group of people...doctors, soldiers, firefighters...they're out there helping people. Defending and rebuilding a country. Saving lives. They're not away from home and families for a game. They're not spending HOURS watching film of other games. Those soldiers spend hours in meetings plotting strategy for defending people not the spread or the Wing T. This is why I gear up for weeks before the season...praying, thinking, preparing myself...not really for now, but for that week about mid-October when money doesn't match the bills, and Brennan's sick again, and I'm needing wisdom about something going on with Cassie...and Wayne's gone from us for a game.

Then my flesh rages and rails against my life...I lose focus...I grow bitter in my loneliness and under the weight of all that I bear without Wayne. It's not worth it. It's not worth this. Why are we still doing this? For a game?? It's not worth it. Women who know me will begin to see the strain and fraying of my nerves. You okay? they'll ask. No, not really. The truth will rise out of me. I can't remember why we do this.

Many will simply reply that they agree! But a few women have been near me long enough to know what I long for them to say to me...Kim, it's not about the game. It's never been about the game. It's never been about the job. What job is worth this? I would go without so much before I'd ask Wayne to work 100 hour weeks for months on end. So, why are we still there?

Because Harry still doesn't know Christ. Because Tevin might see Jesus in Wayne. Because Lache (pronounced Lake) is being pulled by hundred different people who want to use him for their glory and gain. Because of the countless young men who get their first taste of what a real dad is like by being around my girls' daddy. Because no one sees them...not really. But Wayne does. He knows them. Encourages them. Is there for them. Loves them...because Jesus Christ first loved him.

A quick story to highlight it...I got a call during football season last year, right about the time I was losing it. Middle of the morning. Out of town number. I hesitated to pick it up because we were in the middle of schooling. But they were moving pretty good. Stranger's voice on the line, asking if this was Coach Ransleben's house. Yeah. I'm his wife, Kim. Can I help? This grown man tells me that I wouldn't remember him, but he'd been trying to find Wayne for a couple of years. Finally ran into a coach who knew where we were. He just had to call. He wanted Wayne to know that he wasn't the same as the kid he knew. He was playing arena ball. Had turned his life around. His older brother was a preacher now. They both came to Christ years back.

But he had to tell Wayne. Because, he said, Coach was the only one in his whole life to tell him that he could be somebody, that he was going to make it, that he believed in him. He told me about the conference at school with all his teachers when everyone of them were telling about how bad he'd been in class, how poor his work ethic, how they were sure that he was about to drop out and would end up like his parents...both in jail...dad for assault, mom for prostitution. Then Wayne spoke up and said that he didn't believe it. He said this kid could be whatever he wanted. Wayne even said that day that he could play professionally if he wanted to. He was going to be fine. He knew what he had to do. He'd make it.

The guy teared up on the phone some 16 years later because a man believed in him. He never forgot it. He knew Wayne was a Christian. He watched him all the time. He really believes that God used that moment to pull him from a pit. Everything changed after that one meeting that Wayne can barely remember. He wasn't trying to rescue a kid. He was just living his life, encouraging kids, modeling as best he knew the Savior who saved him.

When you look at it from a distance, it's just a bunch of guys on a field, chasing a ball around. Crowds are never worth it. Nameless faces. But if you'd wait until after the game, you could look into their eyes...and if you have the heart of Christ...you'll have compassion on them and you'll stay until it's very late in the day...past meal times...past the point when others would tell you that it's time to send everyone away.

Football isn't worth it. No game is. But it's not about the game. It's about God loving us and pouring that same love into us so that we might pour out that same love to those who are in need of a Savior. If football will bring us to these kids, give Wayne an automatic in with them, grant them the chance to see Christ lived out, grant the audience for the gospel...yeah, that's worth it.

So, when I falter this season...would you do me a favor? Tell me it's not about the game, it's about the Savior. Tell me to look away from the mirror and look into the eyes of the boys Wayne is with. Remind me that staying late and serving long is nothing compared to the gift that has already been poured out on us. Tell me that this light and momentary affliction is preparing me for an eternal weight of glory that is beyond compare.

A game? Of course it's not worth it for a game. But for our Savior?
Go, honey. Have a great day there. We'll be here. And we'll be fine. Go.


Shannon said...

Wow Kim! Candace sent me the link to your blog and said you had something I really needed to read. She was right! Thank you for the reminder. It's a hard one to live out, but thank you for it! Keep them coming:)

Kim said...

So sorry for you and so grateful to know that I'm not alone! Sometimes it eases the load to remember that no temptation will ever come to us except what is common among us all. (1 Cor. 10:13) You pray for me...I'll pray for you!!

eileen mom nana said...

This morning I was upset because wehave 4 new phones (mine, sh, merle, farm worker) that were not properly activated! After reading your post, I realize; once again, how small my daily problems are compared to most. I pray every morning that God will be close to you in every way.. Everyone who knows Wayne also knows, it is not about the game! Have a beautiful day! I love you...

lindsey said...

omigoodness, this was so good for me to read! espcially when college gets so tough and lectures are so discouraging, i always throw up my hands and wonder why am i here? i'm so glad you try to maintain the right focus! i'll try harder, too!