They stride onto the dirt field stripped bare by too many pounding feet. Dust dances in the wind stinging eyes, gritting teeth. They come from all over—tall and short, fast and slow, black and white and brown. It’s four o’clock and the boys in the hood’ are coming out to play.
M, dubbed “Brady boy,” begins the team-making, dividing out old and young, fast and slow.
Sometimes they haul out red cones and yellow flags, marking downs and touchdowns. Other days trees and poles mark yards and disputes are solved the democratic way: “Raise your hand. In or out? Down or not?” Majority wins and the game goes on.
Today they play the old-fashioned way, coneless and flagless, M barking orders on one side and Atut, Kenyan lean, speaks soft to his little guys, “Stand here, not there, Good!”
“Let’s do this!” yells M,
“We’re gonna toast you!” Christian pops back, teeth gleaming white against black.
Smack talk bursts round the field like cannon-fire,
“Wait and see. We’ve got Dexter, the tank who moves cheetah-fast!” yells Deet.
“Brady Boy, we’re gonna flatten you!”
Little E peddles her pink-n-purple trike into the middle of the field, sits sideways, and pulls on her striped pink gloves, one finger at a time, while bodies thud and whirl around her, over her.
Back and forth the boys flow across the field like the tide rushing across the sand, groping for ground. Yelling, grunting, falling, scraping knees and ripping jerseys.
It’s the dance of friendship, this thing called football, young and old, strong and weak, black and white, pulling together, win or lose. They love it that I’m standing in the middle of the dance, shooting pictures, showing them how “Cool!” they look running the ball this way and that.
When little E escapes downfield I chase her down, hold her close on the sidelines, and throw words into the fray, “Great throw. Nice catch! Whooheee, that was awesome!”
They throw back, “Did you see that, Mom? Did you?!”
Entering Boy World isn’t easy for this mama. All too often “Come play, Mom!” is met with “Not today. I need to do this-and-that. Maybe tomorrow. “
But today becomes tomorrow and tomorrow, today, and still I sit inside.
But when my son declared his “best day ever!” the day I threw him a few passes in the backyard, God whispered gentle—
“Greater love has no one than this—than he who lay down his life for his friends.”
But laying down “To-Do” and running down a muddy field with half the neighborhood doesn’t come natural.
Dying to “To-Do” and living to Love—how does a Mama do it?
I can’t do love if Love isn’t a part of me.
How does Love become a part of me?
My friend Gloria, who raised two boys and a daughter, answers like this:
“Abide in Him. Abide. Always abide.”
The fruit of Love blossoms in Him. Getting connected to Love fuels the doing, not the other way around. Then, filled with Love, we give love. We run down the football field, color at the kitchen table, lay on the floor building castles—
We selflessly enter in because He first loved us.
Project Pursued Questions
Do you struggle to enter the “world” of your children or husband? Do you struggle to put “others interests above your own” in the middle of long and demanding days? What would it look like to get connected to Jesus, to know his love so you can be filled with love?