Second-String Starters: Hope for Those Who Think They’re Not Enough


As a kid, I grew up in Tacoma. It was a cross between “The Sandlot” and “Our Gang”. Mike Armstrong’s Dad, named us “The Lenore Street Packrats” and it stuck. We were intense about football. In fact, we were so intense that we had The Front Yard Football League (FYFL). We typed up the rules (with a typewriter), laminated them (with Saran Wrap), and posted them on the telephone poles (that carried the wires for the telephones that hung on the wall).

The FYFL was a very big deal.

But there was a problem. I was 10 years old and I couldn’t run, couldn’t throw, and couldn’t catch. One spring day, I distinctly remember lining up to play as the two captains were getting ready to pick teams. They were arguing. One guy said, “You can go first.” with a big smile on his face. The other guy pointed back and forth at us as he ran through the process and then declared, “Now way, you go first. I don’t want to get Diamond at the end either!”. I wish I could tell you I brushed it off and continued on with my life but, at 10 years-old, that made quite the impact.

I learned two different strategies to avoid the humiliation and the pain: I either ran down to the field as fast as I could so I could “dibs” being the captain or I learned to laugh at myself. If you jump in a time machine and dial in a few years later, you’ll find a medical student who makes his money on the side as a street-mime. Go figure.

But the 10-year-old is still in there. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of pain. Trying to compensate. Terrified that someone will discover the “man behind the curtain”. The Imposter. I suspect that I’m not alone. The imposter syndrome is something that a lot of us struggle with.

A few years back, I was telling someone about the FYFL and, in my mind’s eye, I saw all of us lined up to play. We were all there. Mike Armstrong, Jack Howard, Mike Wright, Dan Sluman, and the rest. Only this time God was picking teams.

He picked me first.

I blurted out, “But, God! I can’t run and I can’t throw and I can’t catch. Me? Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding.” As He rubbed me on the head and slapped me on the butt (like we always did in the FYFL), He replied, “I know all about you. I can’t believe I got you on my team!” For the first time in my life I could look at those voices and say “Go figure; He must see something you don’t.” More importantly, I could say to myself, “Go figure; He must see something you don’t.” Since God sees everything, He knows my shortcomings and picked me despite them. Perhaps He even picked me first because I have shortcomings. Throughout history God has shown time and time again that He delights to baffle “the wise” by using the second-string as starters. It leaves our Imposter speechless. I am known. I am flawed. Yet, I’m picked first. Go figure.

How about you? Does this hit home with you? Please leave a comment below. Also, let me know if you'd like to hear more on this topic.