Making Peace with War (and Cribbage)

don’t like games. There. I said it. Board games. Card games. Video games. I find them tedious and fractionating. Moreover, they tend to keep conversation from going below the surface. I do enjoy athletic games as exercise and demonstrations of incredible human capacity. And lawn games are a happy compromise between a nature walk and a real sporting event. But in general, when given the choice between doing dishes and keeping score among friends: I would choose the dishes. With an audio book or witty companion, ideally.  

In college and medical school, I often organized game nights because it’s what people who didn’t want to go out to bars or clubs did. It’s what “my people” (nerds) did. I made sure we addressed at least a couple of important issues between turns and had plenty of good food for those of us who showed up for company rather than competition. My dislike for mock combat has only deepened with each child; motherhood has turned my brain into a minefield of queries and commentary, with plenty of opportunities to witness contention throughout the day. Can’t we all just work together? 


I am not competitive and would prefer everyone win. But not in the collaborative game, one person is actually bossing everyone around sort of way (looking at you, Pandemic). I hate when people deliberately thwart others’ plans (is that the whole point of Ticket to Ride?).  I am the person who moves the robber to the desert and will trade anything - no questions asked - in Catan. I can think of few things I would like less than listening to someone explain the complex rules of a completely arbitrary game (cribbage, anyone?). I am surrounded by people who view every sentence in this paragraph oppositely to me. I am allergic to fun, at least the brand that comes boxed or downloaded to a gaming system. 

My husband, on the other hand, is the king of games. He is extraordinarily good at strategy and prefers to spend his free time enjoying competition with the people he loves. My ideal night would be a brisk walk among deciduous trees followed by fresh cider and a physical book in front of a roaring fire. God certainly has a sense of humor, since most of the last sentence is a physical impossibility in Southeast Asia. But the wonder and beauty of nature and language have always made my heart sing. It has taken me nearly four decades to realize that God created each of us to be motivated and inspired a little differently. The job of the maturing Christian is determining which of our preferences have eternal value. Most of them don’t.


In a sense, my dislike for games is irrelevant. The point of life isn’t ensuring my days are filled with things I enjoy. Rather, I’m given the unique opportunity of finding joy in whatever hand the Father deals me — even a round of War.


“The secret of joy is Christ in me, not me in different circumstances.” Elisabeth Elliot


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