Happily Even After
Basketball and the Grace of Marriage
by Stacey Noem
Joshua and I are both basketball players. Among other things. It may sound weird to say as 30-somthings, but it is a real part of each of our identities and it actually played a fairly significant role in our getting to know one another early in our relationship.
See, we were both high school basketball players on highly successful teams. I hate to have to actually go here, but for the sake of completeness: Josh’s high school team was state champion in South Dakota for years and years in a row. My high school team played in the final four in Florida 2 out of my 4 years. My junior year we played for the championship.
Now, here is the first insight into Joshua and me. His team won the championship game and my team came in second. Don’t think that EVER escapes mentioning in our household. Also, of note, is that his team was first in SOUTH DAKOTA. They only have one Congressional Representative! Not a big pool of competition if you know what I mean. My team came in second in the hugely populous state of Florida. Not too shabby and I think those two facts together even the playing field, so to speak.
We were both role players on teams that functioned as strong units. I think that has all kind of impact on how we can be so different and still able to work so well together. We get the concept of team. We get what it means to work hard everyday so that we have what it takes in crunch time.
I mentioned this played a fairly significant role in getting to know each other. Well, Joshua and I had two classes together our freshman year of college. One huge chemistry class and one very intimate seminar. We took advantage of the opportunity to “study together” for the chemistry class, but also started meeting to play basketball together early in the mornings before seminar. 1-on-1 at 8am.
It is a complete testament to how interested in Joshua I was that I woke up that early, walked all the way across campus and played 1-on-1 of all things.
I was basically a pretty shy girl when it came to basketball. I loved the team aspect and giving it everything I had, but I was never a 1-on-1 kind of girl, much to my sweet father’s chagrin. But for these morning outings, I dug deep and did my best.
Which makes me think back to the night before our wedding. We had a priest say a vigil mass just for the two of us. He mentioned in his homily that we should be on the look out for special graces that come to us through the Sacrament of Marriage. Special gifts that God gives us along with the gift of grace and one another.
I have thought of that from time to time over the years, and it is only in the last several months that I realize what one of the graces of my marriage has been for me as an individual. I think it started back on those mornings we were playing 1-on-1. My grace is confidence.
I have become a much more confident person through my relationship with Joshua. I project an image of confidence that did not exist in me prior to our relationship. I would NOT have stepped on a court to play head to head with someone before I met him, and certainly not against a boy. But with Joshua, and for Joshua, I did.
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