I wish the church could be more like Figure Skating

With the Olympics in Vancouver over and 879 days until the London Summer Games, I am going through some withdrawals after the nearly wall-to-wall coverage for two weeks. My friend Johannah reminds me that March Madness is just around the corner, but it’s not quite the same since it happens every year. Still with the Olympics fresh on my mind, I have been thinking about a conversation April and I had while watching one night.

We were watching the women’s free skate programme and the lower ranked skaters were performing. I don’t remember the woman’s name or the country, but when she skated she fell, as sometimes happens in this sport. The crowd watching her took a collective gasp. She got up and began to skate again, hitting her next jump (or twirl or trick – forgive my lack of skating terminology knowledge). The crowd cheered loudly. The poor women rattled made it through her routine with two more falls. At the end of the routine, the crowd went nuts.

Figure skating may be the only sport where the crowd, no matter which country they support, 1) do not want to see anyone make a mistake; 2) are upset when any athlete makes a mistake; 3) cheers when the athlete gets the next one right; and 4) cheers at the end of all performances. Maybe it isn’t as pure as all that, but there did seem to be a consistent behaviour for the crowd to act in this way.

I wish the church could be more like this. Not wanting anyone to make a mistake, giving sympathy when mistakes are made, and cheering on when someone gets it right the next time. I would hope that it could help those of us who are our own worst critics when we do make a mistake.

Of course, this may be a naive way of viewing it. Mistakes made in the church and off the skating ice are generally made against someone, so the actions that also would need ‘cheering’ are moves toward forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet, I think we would all be helped with a crowd of other people who also make mistakes (or in the case of skating, a crowd of people who know that they couldn’t get on the ice and do all that!) and view it through those eyes rather than the overly critical ‘armchair quarterbacks'[1] that hurl insults to those who have the courage to play.

[1] For those unfamiliar with the term, an ‘armchair quarterback’ is one who watches the game at home and shouts at the television over mistakes and gives the impression that he or she would do much better than the pro on the field. In cartoons, these people are normally depicted as very fat and would have trouble getting off the settee, much less getting into a game.

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