Skateboarding can often bring out the animal in me. When I skate I tend to get in the zone and tune out everything and everyone around me. If I’m at a crowded skate park, people often feel like a nuisance – just something in my way. I become the only thing that matters at the skate park. I want to push myself and get better, and if anyone gets in the way of that I want to get angry. As I have gotten older I have gotten better at taming this animal in me, but the struggle is still very real for me.
I help out with a skate church in vacaville sometimes and for a while, every time I went I would get real aggressive, cut everyone off, and be way too into my own skating. I always left feeling guilty for the way I acted and often felt like that place was probably better off without me. I eventually just started taking weeks off because even though I had a desire to chill out, as soon as I got there I would just get all into it and not care about anyone else. I hoped that if I took breaks from going that I would come back more chill at some point, but it never seemed to happen.
The church we meet at is moving to a new building, and the other day we had a last night in the building service with all the skate ramps out. And at the end we were all skating and I was kind of taking it easy and watching everyone else, and as I was sitting there watching, I started thinking about all these skate kids that come every week (sometimes twice if they go to youth group, which a lot of them do) to skate and hear a little bit of Bible teaching. I remember when I was their age I didn’t know anybody that skated that had any involvement in anything church related, and here we are in a little indoor skate park set up full of skate kids that come to this thing and youth group every week. I couldn’t help thinking of how beautiful this place has been and how foolish it is to care more about my tricks than the people. A lot of these kids have little direction from their families, and for the most part, skateboarding is the only real family or meaning they have in the world. A lot of them have no money and their parents don’t buy them anything, so every time I give them some of my old stuff they’re always super grateful. Every time I show up some of them are always eager to show me what tricks they learned that week and I can tell that a lot of them look up to me. It’s crazy how someone can be a role model to kids just because of what they can do on a skateboard. After meditating on this for a while I began to feel remorse for all the times I couldn’t go to these skate church nights without getting angry and frustrated for people being in my way.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about for the last several months that really hit me that night, is that everything we do is never about the thing. God didn’t give me skateboarding to just focus on being the best I can and pushing myself, but to love the people I come into contact with through it and show the love of Christ. We should push ourselves and always try to exceed our personal best, but never at the cost of making it more important than the people. In John 13:35, Jesus tells his disciples, “By this all will know that you are my disciples… if you have love for one another,” notice he didn’t say, “by the things you do and how good you are at them.” Do whatever it is you do well, but love the people you meet through it even better. Loving people well will always be a higher priority above our own ambitions. If we can’t love people through our ambitions than we are doing it wrong.
Why is it so easy to get into this mind set that we are the only thing that matters right now? How can we keep ourselves from thinking like this?