Playing until the final whistle

A year or so ago, there was a viral video going around on social media of kids doing a trust fall, but without giving a warning to the person who was supposed to catch them. Many hilarious results and funny videos ensued, as the person who was taken by surprise either leapt out of the way or tried desperately to catch the falling person. Personally, I am terrible at doing trust falls and even with my fiancé, I always lock my knees just before he catches me.

Control, I believe, is something everyone struggles with – not just your overbearing co-worker! There are certain parts of life that we can prepare for. We can go to university, have a pension plan, and make sure that all of our major assets are insured. But certain things in life cannot be prepared for. This month is the FIFA Soccer World Cup – which is the month where I don’t have much say over the TV remote! My dad loves soccer, and growing up in the UK (where it is rightly called football) means that soccer has always been present in some form in my life.

Whenever I think of world cups, I remember being eleven years old and watching the 2006 final match with my dad. That’s a match that most football fans know pretty well! It was France vs Italy and France’s well-loved captain’s final match. Right at the end of the match, when the score was 1 -1, Zidane turned around and head-butted Italian player Materazzi’s chest and got sent off the field. The whole stadium and millions around the world were in shock. Why would Zidane throw away his last ever match – and a world final at that? It was later discovered that Materazzi had insulted Zidane’s family.

I am sure that Zidane spent countless hours throughout his life preparing for a moment like the World Cup Final, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a childhood dream. He would’ve trained hard, worked with his team, made sacrifices, adjusted his diet, followed a strict daily routine and dedicated himself to the sport for years – but that insult and his response was something he hadn’t planned for, and as a result, one of the most important, if not the most important, match of his life was forfeit.

No matter what we try to prepare for, no matter how many plans and backup schemes we have – life will always throw us a curveball. Something we couldn’t have prevented, no matter what we did. This happened to me when my grandfather took his own life early last year. Nothing would have prepared me for the moment of hearing what had happened. It felt as if everything I had previously known and felt certain of was shaky. Where was God? Why would He allow this to happen? I didn’t get any concrete answers, but throughout the entire ordeal, and still to this day, I can feel God asking: “Miriam, do you trust me?” During that time, when my world was turned upside down, I struggled to respond. My most honest answer was “I don’t know – maybe”. But today, after the storm has passed and my heart is healing, I can say with full assurance, “Yes, Lord, I trust you.”

I trust Him because I’ve seen how even when it looks like the fight is lost, it’s not over. My family and I walked through the deepest valley we have ever faced, we had to have a long hard look in the mirror and reassess some things. We took steps forward and we took steps back. We cried, a lot, but we loved hard too. My trust in God has grown because we came out of the valley and we are okay. We made it. In those first few days, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t feel like praying.

But I did. I dug in – hard. I hung on tighter to Jesus that I ever have before, and I understood what it meant to truly make the Lord your strength. Sometimes it’s not pretty – there are a lot of tears, a lot of shouting, a lot of confusion, and ultimately, a lot of uncomfortable honesty. But allowing Jesus to keep working in my heart, even when I was angry, even when I was hurt and confused and in mourning, meant that I can now say that I am certain of the depth of His love for me and for my grandfather.

Zidane went on to become the manager of Real Madrid and became the first in the history of the European Cup to win the trophy three times in a row. He turned it back around, he took what seemed was the worst way to finish and proved everyone wrong. He finished strong. In life and not on the soccer field, I believe that the only way to turn things around and finish strong is by surrendering control, accepting that there are things we can never prepare for, and trusting Jesus with all that we are, and living like that has never let me down.

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