Last Sunday I had a totally different ending to my time of basketball playing. My friend and I had just finished playing our third game. I think I had taken a couple shots, and a young man in his 20's, maybe older, approaches the court and challenges me to a game of basketball. I missed a shot, and my ball heads the whole way across the playground about a 100 feet away. This gentleman begins trash talking me, "Are you tired?" and so forth. His mouth just didn't stop. I was not running. The whole time he is trying to tear me down. Needless to say, I didn't rush.
I played him once before; I think it was this year. I defeated him all three games I played him. I tried to encourage him then by saying "good move" or "good shot." Yet, he never seemed to stop trash talking even then. Back then my flesh cried out wanting to strike him, but I didn't.
Well, my flesh wanted to do that this time also. I returned with my ball and I told him there was no need for his trash talk. He was honest. He told me that he was trying to get into my head. I replied that I knew that, but there was still no need, and that did not occur at this court. (The only people I have observed trash talking at this court are friends. There is a general respect for strangers. However, this was not true with this man.)
He made a threat in the midst of this conversation. I wasn't going to fight him. I was just going to leave. I took my ball (he didn't have one) and started to pack up. He started to leave also. (Intriguingly, he never asked my friend to play.) As he left, he continued to trash talk me. Ironically, he left before me. I said farewell to my friend, and I have been wrestling with that response ever since.
Basketball brings me joy, even if I am struggling in my playing. I even ask God to help me play for his glory. This man's negativity opposed my whole goal of playing. Should I have played him with anger seething through me? I was tempted, but that is not how I want to be. How do I love my enemy in this case? I still wrestle with this issue. At the moment I think walking away from the person was the best answer for me at that time, though I wish I would have had the words to turn around that situation.
"Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war." Psalm 120:6-7 NIV