Words of Hope: Provoked
When Dad was younger, he could easily provoke people into frustration. He loved to induce people to anger, especially on the basketball court. He intentionally wanted to press his opponent to be rattled by him or his team. He often incited his players to anger with his intensity and aggressive nature. When I was young, Dad and I made Parcheesi a blood sport, ending with episodes of bitterness and tears. Dad and I didn’t like this outcome. He wanted to eliminate the ways he provoked me. He didn’t want to live in frustration with me or discord. Hearts was probably my Dad’s favorite card game. I never played Hearts with Dad, which I find curious now that he has passed. It was one of his favorite games. He played it many nights with Mom. My friend told me how much she resonated with my brother’s story during Dad’s Celebration of Life, about how he would walk around with the winning card on his forehead and other provocative ways to flaunt his victory.
Sadly, I am also highly competitive—to the point my family doesn’t like to play certain games with me. Dad and I intuitively knew our experience playing Hearts together would not have deepened our relationship and friendship, so I don’t feel sad I missed playing Hearts with Dad. Instead, I feel glad we had the intuition to realize this wasn’t the best use of our time together. I think we learned ways to serve and honor each other in our friendship. We worked hard to love well and to remove any provocation to anger or frustration. Ideally, I would love to be someone who is never easily provoked, someone my kids could play any game with and delight in–a goal but not yet a reality. In the meantime, I work to be a student of love and learn ways to temper my highly competitive nature by not being easily provoked.
“(Love) does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered.” – I Corinthians 13: 5