Love doesn’t make the small feel smaller

by Craig on June 16, 2011

Ninth grade

The new kid in town.

Short,

scrawny,

and I had picked up a basketball maybe five times in my life.

Nobody had taught me to dribble.

Nobody had taught me to pass, or shoot.

Still I put on a pair of shorts and a gym shirt, socks with a hole in the heel, and laced up my shoes in the corner of the smelly locker room. It was an intentional choice – the corner of the locker room.

Alone.

I stepped out to the gym floor – the last one to arrive – the coach was already speaking. I had meant to slink in unnoticed, instead…

every. eye. turns.

The smallest one on the court becomes even smaller.

The coach speaks of the cuts that are going to happen to the team. It goes right through my ears, past my brain and out the other side because I don’t even know what a cut is – other than something you put a band aid on.

“What am I doing here? I’m an idiot. Look at these guys. Go back to the locker room now. Nobody will ever know or remember that you were here. You know you can’t do this. It’s not too late. Just go home.”

And the coach,
overweight,
red baseball cap,
whistle around the neck,
clipboard in hand,
reads off the list of names.

Almost convinced to turn around, to slide away silently, I hear, “Craig…”

Meh…

there will be no easy escape today.

He calls the other coaches, pointing at the board.

The last name is a hard one.

Laughter from the coaches.

“What is this?” he continues, looking up briefly with a look on his face like he just drank some spoiled milk. Then he takes the glasses that are hanging around his neck, slides them on, and holds the board a little further away as he mutters, “This is ridiculous … scog … scag …scorn?”

And that, by the way, is how derisive nicknames get started.

It was the last name that I had received in second grade after my mom remarried. My original name was easy – it was Gibson. Nobody ever stumbled over the pronunciation – but this new name, Scognamiglio – that got ‘em every time.

Snickers from the other players,
their eyes connected to each other,
turning to each other,
mocking.

The assistant coaches cackling too.

“Whoever you are just hit the court – guard two.” shouted the coach.

Guard two?
What was guard two?
I didn’t even know what a guard was.
I had seen some basketball on TV…

but had never played a single basketball game in my life.

Still I stood on the court.
The ball was thrown to me.
Nobody had ever really told me…

you could only use one hand at a time to dribble.

The whistle blows.
The ball is knocked out of my hands by an angry player.
The call, “double dribble” echoes through the air.
Somebody shouts, “Stupid.”
Another one, “Idiot.”

Now those were terms I was familiar with.

The rest of this tomorrow…

And it gets worse before it gets…

Who am I kidding…

I know the story…

it’s not about to get any better…

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

A. June 16, 2011 at 11:21 am

Oh my! Craig, you write this so well because I feel pain all over when I read it. Why do we mock others? Now, then, I am immediately convicted of any ‘better than piggies’ thoughts I have had. Now there is even more pain! Ok, I think I will be learning things about being on both sides of the fence, here, Craig. I am ready. Big box of band aids on hand just in case….

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Craig June 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

A. The context to this – these darned negative voices that have to go – they’re a lot like the negative voices that we’ve heard. They don’t just come from nowhere. The ones that are spiritual I think we have to battle spiritually – the ones that come as echoes from our past – and think they get handled in a different way – although still with prayer. We don’t judge the piggies – only because we aren’t to judge – as James says – that’s God’s job. Never feel “bad” A – convicted is good – “bad” is not. You’re fighting the good fight. We’re both fighting the good fight. God bless.

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Dawn June 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Dear Craig,

I read this early this morning when it came through without the picture. The picture really solidifies the whole story. I was convicted before the picture, but now (the great “but now”) I’m sentenced for life. I am going to see that big dog over the little one the next time a belittling thought about someone rears its ugly head in my brain. If I still voice that belittlement I deserve major penance.

Thank God for the blood of Jesus,
Dawn

PS I had a similar event happen to me, only it involved square dancing. It will be interesting to see how this all ends for you. Till tomorrow…

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Craig June 16, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Dawn, as I said to A. The context for the story – is in the war on the negative voices. I’m thinking there’s something to be learned from where the negative voices come from – at least the ones that are not spiritual in nature but earthly. I think the way to use the story is to look back on other stories we’ve had – and see how belittled we felt – and see similarities to the voices we hear now. Explaining why some of them are here is added ammunition in the war. That’s why the story is here – it’s a battle in the love war :-) till tomorrow my friend…

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Cora June 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Wow! Craig, I could just feel your pain in this. It just welled up in me, and I’m waling around today being that 4th grader I was back then and experiencing it like it was yesterday. I even remember all their names. I had just come from being in another school, and we didn’t play kickball there. I didn’t know how to do it or what I was supposed to do after I kicked the ball. I was yelled at, mocked, called names, etc., etc. And after that, I was always picked last for EVERYTHING. I still hear those voysez!!!! But if you want to see me boil and rise up in anger, just start picking on a kid in front of ME now. There is no holding me down. I can’t take belittling anyone and will take up your cause in an instant. Sometimes, I think I’m getting back at Freddie Lester and Jimmy Slaughter (my 4th grade voysez), but at least the belitting of someone else is haulted. Don’t even get me started. . . . . .!!!!!

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Craig June 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

boy, Cora, I think almost all of us have a “picked last” story. As I said to A., and Dawn, this story is look back – because the stupid negative voices that attack us today – they come from places – and looking back at basketball tryouts OR Freddie Lester – I think there’s stuff to be learned – and used in the war against the stupid negative voices. God bless you Cora.

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Debbie June 17, 2011 at 12:21 am

I didn’t see this coming Craig. I am going through something right now, with Him. It’s about saying no to abusive and hurtful things in my life. Your doing this now is going to help me with that too. Thank you!

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Craig June 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

first of all Debbie, I’m sorry I’m so late getting back to you, somehow I fell behind. I think we really all have to say NO to the abusive and hurtful things – but I know how hard that is – I just finished praying for you – thank you – I hearted that – God bless you Debbie.

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thefisherlady June 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I sat all grade eight on the bench for every volleyball game…I gave my heart to every practice and still sat out… I was eager, athletic, enthusiastic and somehow it just never clicked that I just wasn’t good enough… I wanted it so badly! By grade nine I made first string and the six of us played those positions all the way to grade 12… and then I was hand picked to be on Canada’s Chimo Volleyball team which at that time was the Olympic Team Canada!
To this day my heart goes out to one sitting on the bench that doesn’t quite make it and I encourage them to press on… You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I love how you write from your heart Craig… I’m going over now to see how it ends.
Blessings friend

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Craig June 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I was a volleyball player too! Me and all 5’7″ – on a good day – me. Early training is important – I think there might be a spiritual metaphor there – I know that if I had known our Lord from the age of 10, life would have been far different than accepting him at the age of 25. And you are so right, we – and I – have power for everything through the one who strengthens us. Thank you for reading Susan – thank you – and God bless you and keep you – and what were you anyway – a hitter/blocker – or a setter? I wanted to be a hitter – but at 5 foot seven you can imagine what I was.

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thefisherlady June 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Setting was my heart… preparing others to shine <3

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Craig June 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm

the setter is the heart of any good volleyball team :-)

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Miz Liz June 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I’ve been away far too long, trying to heal the physical ails so I can carry on with my care giving. So I’m starting where I think I left off in your Love writings. The dark is getting lighter for me, sleep is easier, and the messages from you and Dawn kept me going through the empty chambers. I heart this post because I was on on first name basis with “the voysez” from my earliest memories. My Holy Father has been dilligent in helping me use His ear plugs. He also showed me the blogs of many (like you :-) ) who shine light and hope and love in the dark corners. When you, Craig, write the truth so graphically, it is like pouring hot water on the sour evil. Thank you.

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Craig June 26, 2011 at 5:18 am

And you have been missed Liz, you have. You know that I get physical ails, I hope time has helped. In your situation you need to be strong so you can be strong for others – I get that to! Thank you for your gracious words – I heart them! please join the love war against the negative voices – the more people fighting – and praying for each other – the better. And that my words helped a little bit – that makes me smile. I heart having you here! God bless you Liz!

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