It’s family game night. Much is riding on the game as it’s coming to a close. Usually, in this competitive family, it’s a race to the finish. Normally, the kids are clasping their hands together with anxious laughter, hoping to get the best of their parents; especially dad. Oh how they love to beat the man of the house!
That man symbolizes half their heritage. Half of who they are and who they will become is shaped by their dad’s life – for better or for worse. By watching and listening, he both consciously and unconsciously tells them how to be, who to be. His kind and loving words, though sporadic and sparse, are felt to their core. They know that when he says them, he really means them. He is the one that teaches and guides. If the hours clocked teaching little boys about fast cars could build a stairway to heaven, this daddy would have reached the gates in just a few short years. The time spent hunting, fishing, and wrenching with his kids would be enviable by any parent’s standards.
At the beginning of the game, dad was so far in the lead it seemed no one was going to catch up to him. His game plan seemed so strategic and his confidence unshakeable. It was one of those games that seemed destined to go on forever. With each spin of the wheel, the excitement would build. For the kids, the anticipation of what the end would look like was almost too much to bear – with both fear and victory filling their insides until it felt like they might explode!
Towards the middle of the game, dad’s lead started to slow. The kids were beginning to see the holes in his game plan; the flaws in his strategy. With each turn, they began to catch up and even gain on their father. They watched intently, turn after turn, as dad lost his lead. They prodded and pressed forward with the hopes of coming in first. At one point in the game, they got so focused on the end in sight, they nearly forgot about their dad even being in the game. When they looked back to see how much of a lead they had, they quickly realized that somewhere on the multi-colored squares of the “Life” board, their daddy’s car had crashed. Nobody had even noticed the tiny black square dad’s car had landed on…it said “Meth Addiction”.
Our dad was stuck. It was as if his little, blue plastic car had landed in a tar pit and we weren’t sure how to help him get out. We hurriedly checked the directions that came with the game, but it offered no suggestions on how to get off that little black square. All we could do was sit and stare at each other. Feeling helpless, we kept spinning, hoping to land on the right answer to move our dad further along in the game – or better yet, to just keep him in the game and moving. Our worst fear being that dad would give up. Will he throw in the towel because the game has gotten too hard? Will he quit on us, leaving us to finish the game alone? Why are there so many rules to “Life”, yet when someone gets stuck on this one black square, the game suddenly becomes an urgent mystery?
Here we sit…at the end of the game. Crunch time. The time we normally relish. The time we are usually oozing with cockiness and loving every minute of it. Of course we learned that from our dad! We three kids are in the red zone of the game of “Life” but the chances of a tragic let down seem more likely than a score. We have now stopped spinning, even with the finish line in sight. We have quietly decided we will settle for a stalemate because we don’t want to win. Even more importantly, we don’t want to know who loses. We can spin and spin on our turns but it won’t matter. The driver of the car stuck on the little black square has to take his turn. He must spin and then emerge extremely ticked off that he’s lost so much ground in the game. But will he?