As another school year and spring soccer season wind down it seems I can’t help but reflect. My mind keeps thinking of the growth of my own children and others that are growing alongside them in their schools, church, and activities. There has been a lot of parental growth for my husband and I as well. Both of our girls love the sport of soccer the youngest child has been the most consistent in her love and heart for the sport so I am going to use her as the example although we have learned so much through both of them. The oldest daughter has probably taught us patience most of all as we have given her opportunities and have waited to see what she becomes passionate about.
Our eleven year old daughter has consistently played soccer and her like for the sport has turned into a love. A few years ago it was as if a light switch had turned on illuminating a heart and drive to do her best while playing soccer. The tears that were shed with any bump or fall turned into a determination to not be pushed around any longer. The biggest clue that she was maturing in toughness was during an indoor soccer game where her hand became the sandwich meat between the turf and an opposing team player’s cleat. She got up with the look of searing pain on her face. As her mother I was braced for the tears that I thought for sure were to come. They never did. She shook her hand and held it a bit, but when the referee asked if she needed out she shook her head “no”. A look of determination erased the look of pain and she continued to play a well fought game. After the game she ran up to where I was standing and with a light hearted laugh raised three very bruised fingers for me to see. From that point she definitely earned my respect by displaying a matured toughness and resilience.
A lesson for my husband and I has been that we really need to keep our mouths shut. That we should sit back and encourage, but remember the sport is for fun, exercise, and learning to be a team player. It is so very hard when it seems at times the referee is wearing a blindfold or the parents from the opposing team’s voices grate on nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. Sometimes she will have an off day and we have to remember that we have off days too with work and most definitely as parents. Just recently my husband and daughter had a conversation in which she basically told him that he was wasting his air coaching her from the side lines. She said “I am listening to my coach and teammates I cannot listen to you too.” She has told us that the “way to go’s” are encouraging and ok. This made me think and pray that in life she will listen to life’s true coach, God. If at times we as parents are conflicting with God’s plan or drowning out His voice I pray that they will both have the same determination to focus on Him and not us. I pray that we will be the encouragement on the sidelines in life and provide every opportunity for our children to follow God’s plan. Sometimes I wonder if soccer will be part of the plan or if they will walk away from it. Will He send one or both of our children to a faraway country to teach others about Jesus with soccer as the platform? It may be a direction that we have not even a hint of now. Only time will tell as we see His plan unfold.
Another lesson is that our children’s successes are not about us. It is about them and God’s life for them. We should always have the open mind and ability to allow them to walk away from opportunities even when we see potential. God will lead them and put a passion in their heart for the direction He wants them to take. The sport has taught a lot about trying to keep a balance between God, family, and activities. We continually have to do a value check making sure soccer is not becoming an idol and keep the proper perspective. Soccer is fun to watch, but watching them grow in their relationships with and love for Jesus has been the greatest blessing. I pray they will always listen to Life’s greatest coach!
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”