Rachel had her second soccer game last night. The fact that I never wrote about the first game is a pretty good clue as to how it went. Suffice it to say, if suffering produces character, our team gained a lot in that first game.
But last night, things were different. Not only was it about 25 degrees cooler than our first outing, we actually showed some improvement. Though we are strictly prohibited from keeping score, all indications (from my team members at least) are that we won by a goal or two.
I have to say I was proud of them. And not just because they won. (After all, the team we narrowly beat last night–if I were keeping track of those things–had lost their game on Saturday by the score of 17-0. You probably won’t hear much about the game later in the season when we play that team either.) No, I was proud of my team because they tried so hard and showed a marked improvement in the game of soccer–which is really the point of it all.
The highlight for me, though, came when my reason for being out there in the first place scored her first goal. It was amazing to watch as she calmly struck the ball dancing in the chaos of feet that is second grade soccer and it ended up in the back of the net.
I can honestly say that no goal I ever scored over a lifetime of soccer brought me as much joy as the one Rachel scored last night.
The truth, of course, is that it changes nothing about us or our relationship. I couldn’t love her more than I do, and that’s nothing she has to earn from me by scoring goals or making A’s or even listening when I tell her to clean her room.
I hope she knows that. And that Sarah and Aaron do as well. The reason I love them is because they are here and that’s not conditioned on anything they do. I know they will have to earn so many things in the course of their lives, but I hope they know that my love for them won’t ever have to be one of those things.
If anything else, my halting attempts at loving others unconditionally sweeps me into the steady love of a God who refuses to let us go. As we model that no-condition love in our relationships, all need to keep score falls away and we discover that we have indeed been lifted to the very shoulders of God, who carries us home with obvious delight.