Penalty Pattern Buster!

Last night was a huge night for my national team!

I’ve never professed to be a football fan but I love watching England play and didn’t miss a minute of the game. That was until the end of extra time. When I knew that the game had gone to penalties, I disappeared upstairs and sat in my office. It might sound ridiculous but during what is already a stressy time, I couldn’t watch. I decided to get out of the way and wait for my husband to let me know that Columbia had got through to the next round. I knew that even though Columbia had been the weaker team, things like this never go England’s way. The pattern was firmly established. England doesn’t win a penalty shootout, it’s how it’s always been!

Then it happened…

“They’re through.”


It was safe to come back downstairs.

I was greeted by footage of Ian Wright leaping around the TV studio like all his Christmas’s had come at once. The penalty shootout pattern was broken. England are through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

What made this all the more poignant is that last night I had my own mental penalty shoot out and broke a pattern that has been securely established for a long time.

I think out loud and process information by talking it through. Recently I have been faced with the reality that my way of thinking things through isn’t always helpful for those around me. I knew this was the case but couldn’t find an alternative. If I didn’t say it out loud then the inevitable would happen. All the stuffed emotions would hide away and as soon as my head hit the pillow, they would dance around my brain stealing my sleep. I kept asking God to guide me but continued to repeat the same pattern over and over. Knowing I was missing something, I sat with God yesterday and asked Him straight out to tell me what the problem was and to let me know what I needed to learn.

Here’s what came to mind!

14 Do all things without complaining or bickering with each other, 15 so you will be found innocent and blameless; you are God’s children called to live without a single stain on your reputations among this perverted and crooked generation. Shine like stars across the land.

Philippians 2:14-15 (The Voice)

Dress it up how you like, processing, ranting, talking it through, expressing how I feel…it’s actually complaining! Yep, complaining! That’s all it is and God called me on it. The feelings and hurt that triggered it were perfectly legitimate but my outlet for expressing them meant that I never got through to the next round and never experienced victory.

Last night was different.  The feelings came and instead of choosing an emotional outburst or stuffing the feelings away, I took a leaf out of David’s book and told God every detail about how I felt. I told Him I trusted Him to deal with it on my behalf. I acknowledged that He knew better than I did and let it go!

When my head hit the pillow I waited for the thoughts to come. I stood before the goal with the ball placed in front of me. The enemy had scuffed the penalty spot and was dominating the goal, taunting me and reminding me of the pattern I had always followed. My resolve was set. As the ball whacked the back of the net, my eyes closed and I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.

Even though I know something significant has changed, I’m in the same position as many England fans.

Was this just a fluke?

Is this the way things are now?

Is the pattern really broken?

I’ll probably stumble again, but I have experienced victory. I know it’s possible and I know that through God’s grace and strength the victories will keep on coming.


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