Recliner Ninja

I’ll admit it. I am a recliner sitting American Ninja Warrior (ANW). I am captivated by that television show. Captivated, that is, to watch, not to participate.

jaco-pretorius-n9OqSW_ROS4-unsplash (1)
Photo by Jaco Pretorius on Unsplash

True Ninja’s and Ninja wanna-bes run across floating disks, climb salmon ladders, cross wingnut alley, open doors underwater and take on the warped wall. If forced to try I would plop, fall, crawl and likely give up. There is no way I would even try to run up a wall that curves at a ridiculous angle.

The ultimate goal  is to conquer each obstacle course and get to the top of “Mt Midoriyama” (a structure set up on the Vegas strip). Some seasons no one accomplishes this feat. In the most reason season two made it to stage four, with one winning the coveted title “American Ninja Warrior,” and a large sum of money.

What do I get out of watching?

Some of the back stories about these athlete-performers make me feel like I am listening to a symphony orchestra the way they tug at my heart strings. There was the young dad who competed to earn money for his infant daughter to receive a kidney transport. A viewer responded to that story and donated her kidney! Another athlete trains on his ranch in the Midwest by completing chores and activities while carrying his wife with disability on his back so they can spend time together. Others train and race to show their own kids, or the community around them what it means to overcome.

Not all the competitors have such altruistic purposes. Some are athletes who want to prove they can do more, better, faster. Others are just quirky and young enough that their bodies allow them to compete covered in gold paint, hair dyed green or wearing a super hero cape, or shrimping boots. It is simply fascinating to watch what the human body is capable of, and the unique ways God created each one of us.

What strikes me most on every episode is the level of comradery between competitors. This is an individual game. While some say they are just competing against themselves, the reality is that everyone is competing against each other. But I rarely see that.

Because there are a limited number of Ninja gyms around the country. Many of the Ninjas move to areas close to a gym, or create their own. Several of the Ninjas train together. They don’t do this just to scope out the competition. They do it to sharpen one another. Hmmm, seems like I read something about that before.

But here’s the thing; when one Ninja is competing, groups of other Ninjas are on the sidelines, shouting encouragement or tips, and wearing the colors, or t shirts of the Ninja racing. There are tears and hugs when a fellow competitor makes it to the buzzer. Likewise there is a sorrow among everyone when a Ninja falls. It could be that the Ninja they are cheering on will beat them to the final buzzer.

I watch because I want to live in a world like that. Or more specifically I  want to live among a Church community like that. I want to live, work, recreate and worship with people who have my back. People who cheer IMG_5819for me, who train with me, who encourage me to go farther and faster than I ever thought possible. Who are sad with me when I get caught by an obstacle, and encourage me not to give up.

Even more I want us all to look and dress like the one who is in the lead -Jesus Christ. I don’t want to wear the colors of “church A” only to promote it over “church B.” I want to remember that Christians in other churches are not my competition. We aim for the same goal, our eternal home with Jesus, filled with as many people we can bring.

Who’s with me?

The Way We Play the Games We Play

While dating, Jerry’s friends told me that to have a successful relationship with him I would need to learn to love baseball and Cincinnati Chili. I won’t tell you which one was easier to love, but I have now successfully done both.

We were married just a few short weeks when I decided to make Cincinnati Chili from scratch. (If you want to try it, click here for the recipe. It’s great the first day, but even better after it sets a day). The ingredients were all together and now it was time to let the deliciousness simmer for hours to blend the chocolate, garlic, chili pepper and other flavors all together. To pass the time Jerry and I decided to play a game of Canasta (a card game that both of our families played, though rules varied in each family).  cards-769043_1920Periodically I would get up and stir the pot of awesomeness.

I looked at the cards in my hand and realized I had missed a significant play. Sadly Jerry noticed too and capitalized on my error. This “whooping” continued until the game was too far gone for me to have any hope of winning.

drop-147190_1280How did I respond?  I cried.  Big crocodile tears.

How did Jerry respond?  “What’s wrong?  What happened?  What did I do?”

Baffled and beside himself Jerry tried to figure out what was going on.

Once I could compose myself enough for us to figure out what was going on we learned that though our families played the same game, the play culture was very different. I learned that in the Borton family if your opponent made a mistake you took full advantage of it. The Morris family,  on the other hand, played with the unwritten rules that if someone makes a mistake you perhaps make the most of it for a round or two, but you eventually let them back in so you can continue to play together and have fun.

It probably wasn’t the first, and surely would not be the last time that we bumped up against family history and expectations!

At least the chili did not disappoint.