I hate love. Can’t stand it. I can safely say that I have not conditioned, trained, studied and invested in order to experience love. In fact, I know that I speak for every tennis player on the face of this entire planet when I say that if given a choice, none of us would willingly choose love. Love means nothing to a tennis player.
I do hope by this point that you’ve grasped the full extent of my metaphor, given that the alternative is a litany of complaint letters filed to the Troubadour office. Humor and blasphemy are only a single analogy away.
I hate love, as in the tennis understanding of the concept of love, as in the lack of points, as in love-all, love-fifteen, love-thirty, love-forty and game. However, inasmuch as I cannot stand love, the term bears immediate semblance to my life as an athlete, and as a Catholic, and I daresay it bears the same importance to your life as well.
On the court, this is the first point of a new game. The result of the previous game is never reflected in love-all; rather, your progress or lack thereof if gifted a clean slate, a new opportunity to apply discipline, and by extension, a fresh opportunity to manifest the love of Christ.
Obviously, whatever you tried didn’t work out too well. (Those who have ever witnessed a John Gallagher tennis match are already well familiar with this concept.) This is often the point at which we begin to reign in our trust in God’s love. Sure, we’re called to bring Christ to a broken world, but now we’ve got our own problem to deal with. God, could you please hold while I deal with this issue?
In all likelihood, you were probably close. Maybe you almost got there before the ball bounced twice, or your forehand landed a few inches long. Whatever you tried was almost enough to right the ship, but somehow the man on the other end of the net had an answer. Now, you’re staring a two-point deficit in the face, and clearly, your game plan is insufficient.
On the court, this is the point at which you mentally gauge the effectiveness of your strategy. In the world, love-thirty marks the moment when you return to the drawing board and to your knees, for new inspiration and new direction alike.
Or, maybe you don’t. And it shows. Welcome to love-forty, otherwise known as your formal introduction to an often insurmountable deficit. This moment does not hinge so much upon talent as it does pride. Your racket can only do that which you command it to do. There exists a direct correlation between the probability that you change on-court of off-court directive, and the relative size of your ego, I guarantee it.
Sometimes, you lose the next point. Other times, you can expunge the deficit altogether, forcing your opponent through the same self-examination process which just characterized your own train of thought. Either way, you were made for love.