“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Westminister Shorter Catechism (Psalm 145)
Does that quote impact you like it does me? In my cluttered up life–yes, even in retirement one can default to clutter–how can joy rise to the top of the priority list? Life is not always fun. There’s a long list of negatives we all know about, yet God desires enjoyment for us. There are often references to faith in sports, in case you haven’t noticed. Watch the outcome of the college football championship and pay attention to the quotes from the winners. I know there are onlookers who may discount their expressions of faith as mere exhilaration in the moment of success. Who’s to say? God and joy just seem to go together.
I cannot help but draw comparisons from sports to life. Sports provide a platform for exploration and discovery about aspects of one’s innate nature. Life provides the same adventure. Sports expose failures and weaknesses–sometimes on a very large stage–other people may judge, envy, or even be inspired by watching. Life offers the opportunity to take risks, embrace challenges, and sometimes fail while doing so. Those within our sphere of influence will take note and form their various opinions. But subsequently one can learn to get back up after defeat, work hard and be surprised by success in the next contest. That’s sports, and that’s life. And they are both meant to be enjoyed.
If you dare to put your child out there in sports, you have every right to expect it to be fun. You exult in watching your child interact with other children in a way that is meaningful, enjoyable, goal-oriented, and team-focused, like watching a small community function at a high level. The risk of failure and disappointment are lurking there, but the stakes for a young child are much lower, and failure can lead to exponential growth. Rejection provides your child opportunities for learning, developing more understanding about himself and others. I know that parents dread disappointment for their children at any age. They may even fear that a missed goal can put a child on an inferior course, damage their self image, cause them to underperform in life.
In her book The Gift of Failure, Jessica Lahey addresses the truth about your child’s disappointment:
“Sit with the emotions and don’t try to jump in and resolve the situation. After all, these are his failures, not yours, and it is unfair and counterproductive to try to make it all better for him. What you are teaching him through your patient silence and inaction on his behalf is that he has the inner strength to move on from failure. Your offer to rescue implies that you don’t believe he has the ability to find a solution himself. Help him problem-solve and find lessons in the failure rather than viewing it as a devastating blow…”
Of course this approach requires the long view. The inevitable obstacles along the way, in sports and in life, threaten to steal the joy we are meant to have. Your role as a parent is so pivotal. These young ones shed real tears revealing their broken hearts. When they don’t make the team, or fumble the football, when they suffer a broken bone, or they lose the match, your primal instincts tell you to dive into the water with them, risking a double drowning. The secret is to restrain those strong urges to rescue, and anticipate the rewards that will follow once the lesson is learned. You are still there with them with a loving, watchful eye.
Sports, as life, are meant to be enjoyed. What may surprise us as parents is that youth sports offer instruction about life while our kids are playing. There is the serendipity in the journey. That is what makes both the ups and the downs worthwhile.
Please, please tap like below if you like what you read. And your comments are always an encouragement! Thanks, BAS