I found myself on the verge of tears this morning as I did the dishes. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story I’d heard from my son last night.
He made the JV basketball team! As overjoyed as I am for him, I’m also somewhat sad. Not for him, but for the one boy that didn’t make the team. One boy. There were 14 who tried out. One boy quit because of the pressure. 12 were chosen. That left one boy out of the game. Apparently, this was his third year in a row trying out, too, only to be let down again.
I feel sadness for him. But as I stood at my kitchen sink, my heart reached out to his mother. I was thinking, “What if that were my one boy?” I thought of the words I’d heard recently, “[Mothers] not only…bear us, but they continue bearing with us. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat.” I can just imagine this one mother suffering with this one boy as he mourns over this defeat.
But I also have something to say to that one boy: You did not fail! And I say the same to that one mother: You did not fail! He did not fail! It might be considered that the boy who gave up failed, but that one boy kept on trying. Year after year. Despite defeat. Bravo!
We all experience those moments when we might be that one boy. We may be the one not picked for the team or chosen to play the lead role in a play. Maybe we’re the only one in our family to never marry or have children. Maybe we never get that sought after position at work as we watch one after another assume it. Maybe we’re the only one in the class to fail the course. We may seemingly be that one person who trips and falls in a busy crowd or be that one person who sits alone at church. In these moments we will feel not only lonely, but like we failed somehow.
If we keep on trying, this is not failure. Honestly, maybe it’s a huge blessing that one boy didn’t make the team. Who knows what God is intending to make of him instead of a high school basketball player. Maybe the very act of not making the team is making him what he is supposed to be instead. Though the heartache must be very real, for both mother and son, there are great things ahead, I’m sure!
And so it is with each of us. So we don’t make the team or become president or have that picture-perfect family. What is God making of us instead and despite those setbacks? Most of the time, we don’t even know the end result. As we go through the initial deflation, there may not be an upside to the story in our vision. But it’s there. God sees it. Others around us (including parents) may see it. Success, maybe in a different form than we imagined, is there.
And so, as I celebrate with my own son, my heart mourns and celebrates with that one boy. That one boy who didn’t give up. That one boy who has greater things than basketball on his horizon. That one boy who has an opportunity to discover another side of himself as he faces this challenge. That one boy who may never be a part of the basketball team, but can find an even greater team on which to be if he seeks it. And I pray for that one mother, who continues to bear his burdens on her shoulders, that she might have the power to discover the best team for him as well.
“…even when we face stern challenges and circumstances, ‘these are great days’!
Our hearts need not fail us. We can be equal to our challenges…”
Neal A. Maxwell
Real Imprints Spiritual Tip: Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we always imagine and we have to accept the Lord’s will over our own. The books Not My Will, but Thine and All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience may help in the process of understanding God’s will in our lives and his plan for us.
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