This is a safe place. Other things fall away; worries, judgments, hurts, insecurities, schedules, ages, expectations…. people are open. I love to go bowling with my family! It is one place where my family has been able to go through all of the ages and stages. We can cheer for each other and laugh with and at one another.
It’s the laughing. The familiarity. The success of the previous time. The ritual. Doing what works is important. There is an energy release too; getting to throw a big heavy ball down a long path and knock stuff down. (Yes, throw. I’m not that good at it.) And if you don’t knock them all down, you get to go at ‘em again. The pins just stand there and let you hit them! It feels great. At some point through the years, we began making up a name for each of us to put on the scoring screen. It’s usually something that is supposed to sound tough with a nerd twist. “Moko” for me, “M-Chains” for dad (Mike) etc. That usually takes up about a third of our time at the alley. Sometimes one of us isn’t that into that part. Those who don’t participate in the name choosing get their name decided for them by the rest of us. So, there it is.
Some years we’ve used bumpers and some not. Sometimes we were all too old for them and some not. Some balls went across the lane and some not. Some went out of the lane! Gutter balls only happen in the bumper-less grown-up lanes. Ugh. In life, there is nothing like a good solid gutter ball to make you who you are called to be. If we are tuned in to God, and the community around us, we see that He turns it to blessing. (Romans 8:28) He always makes something good from the gutter ball. On bowling night, it is the cheering and acceptance that you hear, that encourages you through it. It makes you willing to go on and try, risk it again. For some reason, when family members may have judged each other in life, or had hard dynamics, they don’t on bowling night. It becomes a safe place to learn what it feels like to roll a ball too far to the left or right. How to turn just the slightest bit to get a more effective result. We learn. With acceptance, we learn. The point of our life-path is to hang out with God and to help others know that they are a part of the family and show them what that is like; what God is like. Let the family know they are His family.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.” Eph 3:14-15
That’s how we are built, to be his, loving free, receptive, family. There has got to be room for God’s grace and the possibility of something being different. That’s hope. That takes family and family in the broad sense. We are our best “family-selves” in those bowling moments. Defenses come down, parallel play stops, we cheer for each other and laugh and accept.
We are all family; God’s family. We need to be our best family selves for God to work the most blessing through us in these life situations and relationships. Get together. Let Him in. Go Bowling.