This is Friday’s post revisited. I needed to make sure involved parties were fine with me sharing our incident (something I normally do before posting, but didn’t last week). For those who might have read it Friday, skip to the bottom where I’ve added a bit of perspective. For those who haven’t … sorry for the length.
Yesterday, I sat watching a 13-year-old kid crumble as her coach’s effort to either motivate or punish (not sure which) literally sucked the life out of her sensitive, insecure soul. The kid went from a determined to win and encourage her teammates attitude to a dejected and embarrassed get-me-out-of-here resignation.
It took all I had to not grab my kid and swoop her off the floor. Could they not see that the “You’re not trying hard enough”s, “jump higher”s, “get in there!”s were stinging bullets penetrating and destroying an already fragile heart? Throw in thirteen, swirling insecurities and bring in the mop. There’s not much more than a puddle at the end of that one.
I was angry. Frustrated by the situation.
Yet, I know the coach. She’s wonderful. … I drive home not knowing what to do.
My first inclination is to rush the sideline and blurt out pleas to stop. To grab anad whisk her away. To point out the psychological damage being done. To race in, to hover, to save. Oh yeah, those are the words I’ve learned over the last year and a half are the ones I’m to avoid – because they don’t equip. They enable. They lead straight to the place we’re trying to avoid – entitlement.
I know, in my heart, the best thing for the child is to teach her to lean into the situation. Because, throughout life there’s going to be a tough boss, an unfair teacher, an insensitive friend. There will be lots of times where environments are far from catered to her personality type. She needs to be taught how to avoid crumbling and giving into her flight instinct. But my mother-bear side wants to race in and make it right… whatever I think “right” is.
When we got home, I held her through sobbing tears and I listened as she moaned what she thought to be true, the “she (the coach) hates me”s, the “Everyone was looking at me”s, the “My friends don’t like me anymore.” We’ve all heard them. Let’s face it, we’ve all thought or said them. Then I stuffed the mother bear and forced entry onto the higher road.
Her dad and I offered what we hoped to be perspective:
- Sitting you out of the game or yelling at you does not mean the coach hates you. Different people are motivated by different things. Maybe that’s what motivates her so she’s trying to fire you up.
- Your coach loves you. What seems like punishment, might be her helping you get back on track.
- Right now, she’s your boss. Do what she tells you and, as well as you can, do it with a good attitude.
- The teammates around you are much more concerned about their own performance than yours. Not only are they not thinking about you, they don’t determine friendship by whether or not you’re playing your best.
- When you’re down on yourself, get out of your head by finding someone near by to genuinely compliment – cheer them on. You know that works.
- Listen to your coach, but keep your mind centered on what’s true – that your worth is not determined by your performance.
I later shared with my friend Lynne the afternoon’s events. She instantly commiserated with my kid and told me a verse that helped her through the seventh grade blues, Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” She then encouraged me … “Make her lean into it.”
I do. And I give her practical tips to help her lean into it. All I want is for that kid to listen. To hear. To know. I want her to drown out all the noise (from her thoughts, her coach, her friends, the crowd, her insecurities, her fears, …the list goes on) and focus on me. So that when she’s starting to crater, she can look to me for direction and strength and to help her get the thoughts in order. Because I so want her to run from the lies that are hitting her (not from her coach, but from insecurities that catapult her to ridiculous conclusions like “my coach hates me”, “my friends don’t like me”, “everyone is looking at me”) to the safety of truth. Why? So that it may go well with her.
Hmmm…. Sounds familiar. I think I’ve heard someone say this before – to me, to all of us. In as much as I crave that for her, our Father in heaven begs the same for us. Keep your eyes on me. Don’t be shaken by the trials of this world. Don’t buy into the lies being pelted at you from every direction. Find me. Know me. Rest in me. Hide in me. Ask me and I will show you the meaning of refuge, strength, love, and peace. Don’t listen to the world… just look at me. I am Truth. Anchor your eyes and thoughts on me because I am safe. I love you. Obey my commands. Live within my guidelines so it may go well with you.
So as she puts (as I put) one foot in front of the other, might we anchor our eyes on Him and work (play) as if we’re working for Him. Trusting him. Then maybe the bumps will present themselves as they’re meant to, opportunities to serve and love others as ourselves.
Seventh grade blues. Who knew how applicable throughout life?!
Thanks for walking the road with me.
The rest of the story….
Time, distance and open conversation adds perspective. The “day after”, I realized (after prayer and conversation) a few more lessons buried in our situation.
My anger was just what anger is – sin. It wasn’t justified just like my daughter’s insecurities are never worthwhile.
I talked with my friend, our coach. She had nothing but the kid in mind when she pulled her. The coach sees potential and wanted to help her get out of the mental ditch she was so frantically digging. Pulling a kid from a game more often than not snaps thoughts back into place. Her motives were pure. She was right to pull her. If she hadn’t, we would have missed out on some terrific learning opportunities.
What my daughter received as barking orders was nothing more than a coach’s effort to be heard over a very loud crowd. Something I should have known since this coach is one of the most encouraging soft-spoken we’ve ever played for.
This mother lion was quick to let my own emotions rage – which might be a strong word, but I let them freely whirl in my own mind where they did storm around.
There’s so much to learn in these situations. Leaning into them really is important. Leaning leads to tough conversations. Tough conversations shed light. (Light is always good). Leaning into the uncomfortable rather than stomping or slurking away gets to the bottom of things and allows for communication. Communication, real and honest communication, ushers in peace. Which I hope lathers these special relationships.
There you have it. A road (not-so-well) traveled. Thanks for friends walking it with me that call me (rather than talk behind my back) if I’m out of order and that pick me up when I stumble.
Grateful I don’t ever have to walk it alone.