Lessons I learned at the state championship

Last winter, my high school basketball team was fortunate enough to make it to the state finals. Although I’d had months of sports practice, I knew I really had years of preparation for this moment because of the lessons I’d learned in Christian Science. These lessons had prepared me mentally and spiritually.  

Just before the finals, I was talking to my dad about how to apply what I’d been learning about Christian Science to this game. There’s an idea in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy that I have loved and put into practice over my years of playing basketball. The section where it falls is called “Scientific translation of mortal mind” (see pp. 115–116). There is spiritual meaning to this that I’m still learning about, but the part that’s helped me so far is the three headings underneath, which are physical, moral, and spiritual. These show a progression of our thoughts away from negative traits (a mortal way of looking at things) to holy, spiritual ways of thinking. I’ve learned that by praying to God, and learning about my relation to Him, I can better understand what it means to think spiritually. But I’ve also put these categories into practice in terms of how I think about playing basketball. 

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My team and I have made progress in basketball over the years, leading us to more consciously express spiritual qualities.

I’ve thought about how my team and I have made progress in basketball over the years, leading us to more consciously express spiritual qualities. Early on, we focused on skills like boxing out your opponent, who can shoot the ball better, and so on. Then we learned that qualities like compassion for each other, good sportsmanship with the other team, and supporting your teammates should be more of our focus. 

As I’ve grown in my practice of Christian Science, specifically in relation to basketball, I’ve learned how I can even bring spiritual qualities to the game, such as wisdom and love. Here is the full list of qualities from Science and Health: “SPIRITUAL. Wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, spiritual power, love, health, holiness” (p. 116). It’s been great to recognize how these qualities can help me improve my game, but I’ve also come to understand that everyone expresses these qualities because we are all children of God. 

There is never a moment when I can’t pray, or live what I’m learning about God.

During the state championship game, we learned that the other team had a player who had passed away a week before the championship. Even though I was their opponent, I still felt like I should focus on expressing those spiritual qualities to support both my team and theirs. I also knew that both teams could feel uplifted and joyful while playing, cherish the moments with our teammates, and respect the lessons and qualities that we learned throughout the game.  

We played a great game, but the other team won. In that moment, I cried, but it wasn’t because we lost. It was because both teams expressed, and maybe even gained a new understanding of, those spiritual qualities I’d been praying about. There was a strong camaraderie during the game and everyone respected each other. I really felt love on the court. 

Something that I learned from this experience is that there is never a moment when I can’t pray, or live what I’m learning about God. My basketball career has ended, but I know that next year at college when I play rugby, I will turn to prayer in any situation, to feel more of these spiritual qualities and see them expressed.

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