I grew up in South Florida, Hollywood to be exact. It was a great place to be a kid. I’ll spare you the long list of delights and simply describe one—paddleball. Paddleball is a bit like racquetball except:
- The paddle is all wood.
- The ball is pink and very bouncy.
- The court is outside, and open except for the front wall.
Good luck finding many paddleball courts, or paddle balls for that matter, now.(I couldn’t even find a photo!) But once upon a time, it was all the rage. There were courts by the schools, courts at public parks and courts by the beach, all of them crowded.
My dad taught me to play paddleball. It was great fun and a great workout. I didn’t realize until recently that it was also a great way for him to instill his positive attitude in me. As a general rule, my dad did not let me win.
Lesson number one: Life doesn’t always give you what you want.
The rules of paddleball are pretty simple.
- When your opponent slams the ball off the front wall, hit it before it bounces more than once.
- Make sure your return sends the ball to the front wall before it hits the ground again.
- Don’t hit the ball out of bounds. (You’ll lose the point, and you’ll have to go running for it. Remember, no back wall!)
We would play until we were drenched with sweat and out of breath. We’d laugh a lot. I haven’t played in decades, but my imagination can take me back to the court by Hollywood Hills Elementary School in an instant.
Lesson number two: Simple things, done with those you love, are priceless.
My dad is really good with words. He would say silly things as we played like “7- Up, the all family drink” when we were tied 7-7 and “We all need fortitude” when the score was 4-2. But the one I remember best is this: “You win the serve.” In racquetball, whoever loses a game gets to serve first for the next one. I never once heard my dad say, “You lost.” He always said, “You win the serve.”
Lesson three: A whole lot of life is dependent on how you look at things.
My dad has had his share of hardship. You don’t need to read his list. You’ve got your own list. But he would be the first to tell you that he has lived and is living a life into which the Lord has poured great blessing.
- He would tell you that sometimes he’s won the game and sometimes he’s won the serve.
- He would recount the importance of spending time with those you love.
- He would remind you that you won’t always win, but that will be okay.
My dad is a smart guy. I hope you’ll benefit from some of his wisdom today!