If you know me at all you’ll know that I am nothing if I’m not curious…I have an insatiable appetite for adventure and I am always trying my hand at new things, regardless of how skilled I might or might not be. Thus, it should come as no surprise to you that I played football my freshmen year of high school. It was a time filled with dozens of valuable lessons; one being that I don’t belong on a football field but one being something that would follow me for the rest of my life…
One obvious statement about football is that it is competitive.
One not-so-obvious statement is that some coaches actually teach sportsmanship.
And my coach, Coach Brannan, certainly knew sportsmanship. So it is of no surprise that he taught us the importance of walking away when the other team tried to start something. However, in his lesson he told us that if we must respond to our opponent we ought to just say “scoreboard” and walk away. See, my high school was one of the most winning teams in the country so the “scoreboard technique” was a very simple solution that applied to most every game we played.
All this being said, today I had the privilege of sitting down and speaking with a very close friend who is going through a separation with his wife of 20 years. A separation that was instigated by different variations of the “scoreboard technique.”
The technique’s workings are simple: every time someone does something good or bad in a relationship a point is added or subtracted accordingly. There are more than a few problems with this technique and yet it’s one that everyone in any relationship, anywhere in the world is guilty of at one time or another. The technique has ravaged even the healthiest of relationships and yet, human nature often prevents us from recognizing our error before it’s too late.
Relationships go through seasons. Some are pleasant while others are turbulent. Some are life-giving while others are life-taking. Regardless of your current season you are sure to experience the opposite sooner or later. This law of seasons applies to individuals independent of the relationship, meaning that an individual in a relationship can go through a bad season while their partner goes through a good one. Furthermore, an individual can be completely content in their relationship and yet me miserable as an individual. We see this often with people who suffer from illness or personal strife. The danger is that, when this occurs, the person who is well is often left to care for the person who is ill; thus, racking up a slew of points on their scoreboard while their partner is incapable of balancing the scoreboard. This is part of what happened to my above mentioned friend. His wife grew so weary of struggling alongside him that she ended up leaving. I’m sure most everyone who reads this knows of someone in a similar position.
While the above example appeals primarily to our basic understanding of love, the following is a deeper, more vital example of the scoreboard’s danger. The premise of this is that LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF RIGHT OR WRONG. It is a biblical principal that applies, universally, to healthy love. The danger that is implied in this case is that as the point total climbs, love is lost. This is due to the fact that points build resentment and resentment builds walls and walls serve two dangerous purposes: keeping others out while trapping yourself within.
Of course, no one is perfect and the “scoreboard technique” is a natural phenomenon that will always exist. Therefore, the key to success in this matter is not to stop altogether, because thats not realistic. Rather, be aware and intentional so as to not let your scoreboard continue its incessant adding and subtracting. This means being ready and willing to ignore the scoreboard even when your partner is being a real douche. It means granting forgiveness regardless of the other persons level of remorse (or lack there of). It is the difference between selfish love and selfless love.
Chad and G