I fell in love with the sport immediately. However, that didn’t mean I was any good at it. In fact, my freshman year, I can remember hitting one good shot all season. I played mixed doubles, and we were playing at Roosevelt High School, and I had a backhand crosscourt approach shot. That was it –– for the entire year. My father put me in tennis lessons that summer.
The lessons paid off as I found myself in the #1 singles slot my sophomore year. The season started in February and all was going well. Then around mid March, the strings in my racket broke. I took my racket to my parents and asked to have it restrung. They said “no” and gave me another racket to use. This “new” racket was old and cheap, and I wanted nothing to do with it. After all, I was now #1 and awesome and thought I deserved a little respect. I did what any self-respecting fifteen-year-old would do. I pitched a fit. My parents were unmoved.
I had no choice but to play with the racket. I did have a choice, though, about my attitude, so I chose the best option––play the victimized martyr and keep complaining. For three weeks I took this tack and then I realized that my birthday was just around the corner. Though I still grumbled a bit to show my discontent, I had resigned myself to the racket, so now it was now time to play the good child.
My birthday arrived. In fact, it was a surprise sixteenth birthday party with my entire tennis team. Lots of food, lots of fun, plenty of gifts. One gift I remember in particular. A long, rectangular box which held –– two brand new Billie Jean King rackets, strung to perfection. I was speechless.
My family was not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. I know because we ate liver and onions––a lot. So when I saw those two state of the art rackets, I knew they had required a bit of sacrifice to buy. To put it mildly, I felt stupid. My parents' “no” was simply because they had already purchased something far better than what I had wanted––what I thought I had to have to be happy.
That little scene comes back to haunt me every time I pull my fifteen-year-old attitude with God. When I stomp my foot and thrust out my lower lip because He has not given me something I want, and have to have, right now, when all the while He has something much better waiting for me.
The problem with demands is that we make them from an incomplete perspective. We absolutely believe that we know best what will make us happy and fulfilled, and that not getting that (item, person, job, etc) will conversely make us unhappy and unfulfilled.
I am sure, occasionally, God has given in to my childish, selfish tantrums and let me have what I wanted just to appease me, (or I have just bulldozed my will through the situation) and now I often look back and wonder what I had actually given up to have my own way. I will never know, but hopefully, I have learned that God’s gifts far surpass my demands. And at this Easter time, I am eternally thankful, that Jesus willingly submitted his will to his Father's so that I could have the greatest of gifts.
First published April 1, 2015