Our daughter has always been a little bit more of the quiet, reserved type - never one to want to be in the limelight and always a little nervous about trying something new. She has a huge love for people and is one of the most generous souls I have ever known, but it takes her a little bit to warm up to people and feel comfortable. I have no doubt that she gets some of these traits from me. Given that information, Nels and I were both a little surprised when she asked to try out for club volleyball in the 4th grade. I was SO proud of her for being willing to go out on a limb and try something new. She ended up making the team, and we watched her confidence grow and her tough shell start to melt away a little bit. She loves playing volleyball - the joy just flows out of her when she is playing!
Since starting volleyball, our daughter has been fortunate enough to be on a phenomenal team, the type of team filled with incredible athletic talent and coached by a wonderful coach who loves the girls like they are her own. The challenge of being on such an amazing team is the possibility of decreased playing time for our daughter in some of the tougher games. This past weekend was one of those times. A couple of the games were intense and the cards just didn’t fall in a way that allowed her into the game. As each point ticked by and she sat on the bench, my heart hurt a little more and the lump in my throat started to form for her. I was imagining how she must be feeling. It was a tough mama moment for me, that is for sure. Not because I questioned the way the game went but simply because watching our kids struggle is difficult!
Through all of this, I kept watching her and do you know what she did? She kept cheering on her team - every point that was won or lost, she kept cheering! When the game got tough, I heard her yelling “you can do this!” and when they scored each point, her hands were clapping and her face was smiling as she kept encouraging her team members. In all of those moments where she could have acted bitter and angry or felt sorry for herself, she chose to smile and cheer and celebrate the success of her teammates. She desperately wanted to be on that court - there is no doubt about that, but she never let that stop her from encouraging those that were! I couldn’t stop watching her.
When the tournament was over, she and I walked away from the court and I put my arm around her and kissed the top of her head. She gave me a look that told me that her heart was hurting but she never said a word. I wanted to scoop up that sweet girl and tell her how amazing she was and find the words to make it better - but there were no words that were going to change anything at that moment. She is too old for me to “make it better” and I also know that these struggles are what make us dig deep and grind harder, which I have no doubt our daughter will do. The only thing I could do was tell her how incredibly proud of her I was and I meant every word of that!
As I drove home in the dark that night and I thought about her and the day, the tears fell. Not because I was sad for her, but because I was incredibly proud of her. I pray that in the moments where I am faced with adversity and feeling personal defeat, I can show that kind of courage and strength and keep cheering for everyone around me to succeed. At the end of the day, those are her teammates and she was a huge part of that success, even though there were undoubtedly moments that she questioned that. That day I learned a very big lesson in grace, love, and perseverance from my 12-year-old daughter. I truly couldn’t have been more proud of my #15!
So today I would encourage you to take some time and think about how you handle it when you are “on the bench”? Whether it’s at home, at work, with your kids or in your marriage, how is your frame of mind when things aren’t going your way? Are you angry, bitter and pouting or do you rise up and cheer on the people around you? Do you let adversity get you down or do you dig deep and let it fire up your soul to improve? I hope that you will take a lesson from our sweet girl the next time you find yourself facing feelings of defeat or disappointment and remember to be a positive force!
Sometimes our greatest lessons come in the moments where we least expect them - even when the going gets tough, JUST KEEP CHEERING!