Warning: Some issues will be exposed in this post and I will not come out looking good. However, what I am about to share with you is all true; at least two family members can vouch for it.
I have an issue with games. As far as I can tell it applies to all games but not to all people I play against. There are many situations in which I can play games while behaving respectably and enjoying myself. However, put me in competition against my husband and I will do most anything to win, losing most rational thought and action in the process.
We were well into our marriage before we discovered the problem. Rob and I were on the Spanish Canary Islands for our fifth wedding anniversary. Up until that point, it had been a beautiful holiday; relaxing and enjoyable. One evening, tired from a long day out on the ocean, we decided against any more activity and chose to sit on our balcony which overlooked both the ocean and the resort pool.
Lulled into a false sense of peace one of us suggested we pull out a deck of cards and play a game of Buy. (No idea if it’s Bye, By, or Buy . . . )
I’m ashamed to say how quickly the quiet evening turned into a fighting match that only ended with one of us storming down to the pool to cool off. (Yes, it was me. In my defence, Rob had a statistically disproportionate number of wild cards in every single hand.) For the sake of our vacation, and perhaps even our marriage, we decided to put the deck of cards back in the suitcase for the remainder of the trip.
The problem surfaced here and there after that but did not have much opportunity to manifest as our lives were busy with work and then with four young children.
The children are growing and recent years find us with more leisure time for each other. This is a good thing. Mostly.
So I was surprised by the heated trash talk that emerged during a game of Sequence a couple of years ago. Rob and I both insisted we were the better player. Having reached an impasse and needing to know for sure, we decided to place a notebook in the game box to keep track of important statistics such as wins, loses, and number of wild cards used by each player in order to find out for certain. We tracked statistics for almost a year before conceding that surprisingly, we were very evenly matched.
This détente lulled me into a sense that my problem with games was mostly under control. I was shocked when the war flared up in earnest again this year. The carnage quickly grew to epic proportions.
Our oldest son is quite the game player himself, so this Christmas he innocently asked for the game of Risk, and we happily gifted him with it. No one could foresee that our first-born son would unwittingly become the pawn in our quest for global domination.
Early into our first game an unexpected problem arose. You see, for me to decimate Rob, I would have to annihilate Shay in the process. I couldn’t do it. I could not look at the precious little boy who still feels like my baby and knock him out of the game he was so happily playing. Rob, on the other hand, had no such inhibitions. He did whatever it took to win.
The game swung between two extremes. Either I was freaking out at Rob for crushing his own child – calling him heartless, cruel, a despot – or I was freaking out at Shay for standing in the way of my quest for power. It became such, that Shay was banned from playing the very game he had been gifted with, and was relegated to placing troops for the neutrals while Rob and I fought to the death. (I know. It’s not my proudest moment. Through the catharsis of writing this post I am convicted of my behaviour. Henceforth Shay will be allowed to play and can do so confident he will not face verbal assault from me.)
The funny thing is, after Shay had been kicked out of the game and it was just Rob and I playing, I noticed a weakness in my strategy. When I got to the point in the game where I felt confident of victory I would ease back. Seeing the Blue Crush dominate the board, I would let up on the Red Army rather than finish it off quickly. My offence was anemic and my defence was lax. The result was I lost ground to the enemy. (A couple times I just lost a few battles, but one time I completely lost the war.) Because I was scared Rob would feel so bad about losing that he wouldn’t want to play with me anymore, I went easy on him. (I know!! Am I 10?!)
I can’t help but wonder, how much risk are we willing to take in the real battle we fight? Are we lulled into a false sense of confidence that causes us to ease up the attack? Do we concede ground to what we love or to that which seems safe or familiar?
Or do we fight like everything is on the line?
Because it is.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things [cravings that make you wander away from the faith and that pierce you with many pangs (verse 10)]. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12
May I reach the end of my fight and be able to say . . .
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8