True confession, I’m 35 and I’m a little bit on the chubby side. Okay, who am I kidding? I’m fat.
My hoop dream days have long passed me by. On a good day I can still get a little rhythm in my shot and maybe do a thing or two with the dribble, but those good days are rare. In fact, they are very rare!
Long ago I let go of the impressive intramural games and men’s league games I played in during my early twenties. I am but a shadow, albeit an overly large shadow, of that guy. The funny thing about those games was usually this, I always played better when my girlfriend (now wife) was in the stands. It was a pride thing. I wanted her to know the guy who just dropped the most points was leaving with her. It was a little pride, selfishness, love and arrogance all rolled up into a basketball. In that moment, I wanted her to feel pride, so I played for that pride.
That was then, but fast forward to now….
To give you some background, out of all of our children, our son has struggled the most with his foster care and adoption journey. It is hard for him to embrace the idea of new parents and not going home, as it is for most children in his situation. So everyday we fight for his heart and we love without ever knowing if the affection will be returned.
Recently he invited a friend to spend the night. At one point I found them outside playing basketball, so I joined in. We played H-O-R-S-E. I won. We played P-I-G. I won. (They are only 11 years old, but don’t rain on my story!) Then we played 2 on 1. The two kids verse the fat guy. About half way through the game, it hit me. I wasn’t playing for fun (although I was having a blast). I wasn’t playing to win (although I wanted to win). I wasn’t even playing “because that is what good dads do”! I was playing for his heart and his pride. With every move, every dribble, and every made basket it was like I was the 20-year-old kid, back in college, playing for the girl in the stands. Except this time I was playing for the heart of a boy on the pavement next to me.
His friend kept saying, “Man! Your dad is so good!”
Inside I kept saying, “Yes, I am..let me love you, let me prove how much I want to be your dad.”
Swish….I’m good enough.
Behind the back, between the legs…That was for you.
Off the glass…Game time. Do you see me? Do you see how much I want you to enjoy being my son?
It was a surreal moment and easily the single most important time I’ve ever picked up a basketball in my life.
Adoption is coming.