Imagine thousands of angry people pointing their fingers at you, repeatedly yelling at the top of their lungs, “Who are ya? Who are ya? Who are ya?” Pretty stressful, right?
Opposing players taking a corner kick at a Vancouver Whitecaps game know this feeling well, as the infamous Southsiders try their hardest to shatter the psyche of their opponents. Some players might find it difficult to take the corner, but somehow, they block out those voices, focus, and do the task they are paid to do and that they have practiced again and again. They are professional soccer players who belong to a club, and they know it—regardless of the accusing crowd.
I sometimes feel like I’m the one taking the corner kick. No, I’ve never played soccer well, and when I do try corner kicks, the ball inevitably goes awry. But on the soccer pitch of life, in my different roles as husband, father, teacher, vice-principal, and friend, there are times when I feel woefully inadequate to the task and feel like the Accuser is berating me and calling into question my value and identity as a person. Satan is always trying to get “into my head” by mocking, “Who are ya? Who are ya? Who are ya?” For example:
As a husband:
“Who are ya? You call yourself a loving husband? You don’t woo or romance your wife! Hey, you rarely even let her know how much she matters to you and your children! When’s the last time you planned out a date? Who are ya?”
As a father:
“Who are ya? You sure are impatient with your kids! You are more concerned with the mess they are making than the fun they could be having! You don’t spend enough quality time with them! Who are ya?”
As a teacher:
“Who are ya? You aren’t working hard enough to meet the needs of your students! That lesson (which you hardly spent time planning) was pointless and boring for the students! The parents are paying for this? Who are ya?”
As a vice-principal:
“Who are ya? You are asking the teachers to do things in their teaching that you are scared to try yourself! You hardly know the expectations of your role, let alone how to do them well! Master’s degree—ha! Who are ya?”
As a friend:
“Who are ya? A friend? Aren’t friends unselfish, and generous with time and resources? You worry more about yourself than your best of friends, let alone other acquaintances! Who are ya?”
These voices make it so difficult for me to “take the corner.” On my own, I don’t stand a chance, and admittedly, there are times when I beg for the substitution to come off the bench and take my place. But—and there’s always a but—there is another voice that not only calls me to stay in the game and do the tasks that I’m called to do, it tells me very clearly that I belong to a team, that I am dressed in the official team jersey, that my teammates support and trust me, and that I am given strength and grace and forgiveness—even when I miss the net completely.
When I am accusingly mocked, “Who are ya?,” my coach’s voice resonates, “You are God’s child. And since you are My child, I have also made you an heir!”
This is the voice I want to listen to.