This past week I had the privilege of working with some amazing volunteers and people with special needs. The atmosphere of the evening was one of cooperation, serving others, and good natured fun.
For the special needs community that showed up on Tuesday night there was no sense of competition, and something interesting happens when it is removed. There was no arguing, yelling, or complaining. There were uniforms and team designations, so yes there was a certain degree of pretending to compete with one-another. But there was no heart felt competition. Instead, the focus was on something different entirely. So when we allow others who may be different from us to enter our small world we can learn and grow as a person. Here are some things that I was reminded of on Tuesday.
What the Special Needs Community Can Teach EveryoneÂ
1) It’s “ok” to let others help you.Â Honestly, this is a difficult one for me. Pride in my heart says, “I can do this (life) all by myself.” But the truth is we are all broken, damaged, and hurting. It is only now that I am almost forty that I am willing to say that sometimes, I need help. My initial concern is that you may think that I am “weak.” But I have also grown to care less what others may think.
Tuesday night showed me that when you help someone you are blessed, and when others help you, you are blessed. Those who were playing were constantly encouraging others on their team (and the other team), and helping where they could. But when it came time for them to go to bat, and their wheelchair needed pushing onto the field they didn’t resist someone helping them get to the batter’s box. Why do we resist when someone comes along beside us and says, “let me help?” P-R-I-D-E, and it comes right before we make a big fall. The sooner we learn that we are designed by God to live life with people the sooner we discover contentment. That “living life” means that sometimes we are the helper, and sometimes we are helped by others.
2) It’s not always about keep score. We are constantly told by our society to strive to be the best, come in first place, or win the grand prize. And yes, we should do our very best, but Tuesday evening reminded me that sometimes life is about just being in the game, living in the moment, and enjoying those around you. Instead of focusing on a trophy, that next step in your life, the next finish line, or who you are going to beat; take a moment to just “be.”
Enjoy the sun on your face in the outfield, or clap for another who is at bat. Just have fun right now — it’s ok to occasionally forget about striving to be the best. On Tuesday night they didn’t count strikes, or balls, or bad pitches (they didn’t even keep score). It was all about encouraging others to do their best and making sure they had a good time. There was one batter who ran around the bases before he hit the ball, and then hit the ball, and ran the wrong way. So sometimes, it’s not even about following the rules.
3) Everyone brings a special gift to the game.Â I honestly don’t think that those on the field, in the uniforms, had a thought of how they were better at something than someone else. I don’t believe that they ranked themselves in some kind of “pecking order.” They didn’t seem to compare themselves to others. How wonderful it must be to not have to constantly feel like you need to impress someone with your “talents” or prove that you should be apart of the team. The players were apart of the team (that’s just how it was) and they played the game (period).
But what they brought to the game was very special. They brought joy, a spirit of unconditional love, and support to fellow players. Â I am looking forward to the other three games of the season, and to seeing what else I can learn from this special community of people.
Click here to see pictures of the Miracle League of Valdosta.
Click here to visit the Miracle League of Valdosta Facebook page.