You sports mamas, I don’t know how you do it. We are on day three of JV basketball tryouts and my heart has been in my throat for days. Tell me you’ve been in this place. You put your kid in God’s hands, whispering trust, only to snatch him right back out with the next breath. Because there is an ugly, deep down part of you that is worried this is going to be one of those character building lessons and you’re sick of those and want to move on. Because you know how badly he wants this, needs this, and you’re terrified that your big man/child is going to walk through the door tonight, tears in eyes and defeat written on that face you’ve adored for 15 years and it’ll break you. You’ve learned that tears from toddlers are nothing compared to tears from teens, face a reflection of the war between letting it out and keeping it in. You tell him this is not who he is, that sports don’t define him. But you know that his longing is for this to be part of his identity. To wear that jersey and represent. He’s been trying for 4 years to make the team and you want to grab the coach by the shirtfront and beg for a chance. Even though you know that this is not salvation. It’s not poverty or abortion or sex trafficking or hunger. This is a game and it doesn’t define him.
So you text your friend and ask to push carts at costco so you can glean her wisdom. You rake it in like you’re harvesting heart cells and then she asks about these last weeks. Asks how your heart is. And you tell her that you’re more worried about your teenager making the team than your 6 year old with all his health problems. Guilt dances across your face because what kind of mother thinks this way? And she says, maybe teenager’s heart is more fragile than Abe’s right now. And you thank Father again, for the millionth time, for giving you this dear one who is the wisest in the land and who speaks truth as a native language. Bless it.
Mamas, our kids are nursing fragile hearts. All of them. And it’s ok for us to hold those delicate organs in our hands and worry over them, but we have to find our way to the handing off place because that is where the good stuff happens. Like trusting that what Father has for them is so much better than we could ever plan. Like believing that if he doesn’t make the team, it’ll be because he is being protected from something or someone who could hurt him. Or because he just plain isn’t good enough. In this world of participation ribbons and everyone winning, we have to hand feed them defeat sometimes. Your kid can’t be the best at everything. Winning everything is the precursor to being a conceited prick who no one can stand to be around. We want better for our babies than to be that guy. And so we let them tryout for the 4th year, knowing they are up against kids who have been balling since they were toddlers. And we commit to praying for fragile hearts, theirs and ours. We put a roast in the crock pot so that when he walks through the door tonight, elated or defeated, there will still be food and shelter and there will be you, waiting.
this is me being real.