Today, I am thankful for basketball. November marks the beginning of basketball season. I’m not talking the Kobe Bryant, Laker girls, high dollar salary, corporate sponsor, big arena basketball. I’m talking basketball played in cramped gymnasiums, scoreboards with missing lights, young ballers playing purely for the love of the game and bragging rights against the cross town rival. Basketball for basketball’s sake.

Regular season play for the Sycamore Middle School Knights began today. My nephew Jackson was making his debut on the junior varsity team tonight and I was determined not to miss it. I rushed from a meeting weaving in and out of rush hour traffic and made it to the gym a couple minutes into the game. It had been my intent to change into jeans and a royal blue sweatshirt sporting the school’s colors but I ran out of time and ended up wearing my 9 to 5 attire, wine colored patent leather high heels and tweed skirt trimmed in black leather with matching jacket. I looked more like going to a high-powered board meeting in the Big Apple than a middle school ballgame in rural Tennessee. Next time, I’ll carry a change of clothes in the car. Not only did I look completely out-of-place, it’s pretty hard to sit lady like on bleachers. I got more of an inner thigh workout trying to keep my knees together for the four quarters of that junior varsity game than I do during an hour long Pilates class.

As I watched Jackson go up for his umpteenth rebound, I realized basketball and this weight loss thing were a lot alike. Most of these kids’ first shots didn’t go in, not the Sycamore Knights or their opponents decked out in John Deere green uniforms. They had to get the rebound and try again. Life’s like that. Most days, aren’t perfect. I eat something I didn’t intend to. I miss getting in a workout. I act like a raving lunatic. I have to get the rebound and take another shot, the next meal, the next workout, the next day.

Ball handling is important, part of the reason I never played basketball. I can’t dribble to save my life. The other reason was God had given me a set of lungs that could yell DEFENSE and REBOUND so loud the other teams ears would bleed so a cheerleader I became. Back to ball handling. When the kid dribbling gets too loosey goosey with the ball, dribbling too far out from his body, too high or doesn’t have good control, the other team has a better chance of stealing the ball. Same thing with food. If I plan it, I prepare and I control, I stand a much better chance of staying on track for a slam dunk. It’s when others have control over food that I tend to have more of an issue, a baby shower, a wedding, a business luncheon, a quick meal on the go at a restaurant. The less control I have over where and what I eat the better chance I stand to eat more fat, more calories and more carbs.

I’ve watched many of these boys play since they were in third grade. Now, they are half-grown seventh graders. It takes every last one of them to play the game. From the tall dark-haired center towering above the others to the quick as lightning kid with a buzz cut. Whether it’s zone or man to man defense, it takes all five boys on the court to make it happen. Heck, it even takes the five or six sitting on the bench. The starting five get winded, get tired or get fouled and substitutes have to be made. My life is no different. Some days, I get winded and need someone to come from the bench and give me a break. Some days, I need my someone to fist bump me and say “Good job” or pat me on the shoulder and tell me to “Shake it off” and try again. I need a team. I can’t do this alone.

Every now and then, when the team is facing a two point deficit and the clock’s down to just seconds, the point guard dribbles down and pops a three from the top of the key sinking the sweetest shot right as the buzz sounds winning the game. Those are the moments that make all the practice, sweat, and sore muscles worth it. A magnificent, glorious three pointer at just the right time. I think feel one coming on.

1 Corinthians 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?