Yep. You heard me. My daughter, Jess, who turned 14 years old yesterday, is a starting running back for the football team at Boardman Center Middle School. In her first game ever she ran for a 70 yard touchdown. Then she ran for two more touchdowns in the same game. In total, Jess racked up about 150 yards on the ground. I tried to get the video clip onto WordPress, but you can check it out on my facebook page on today’s date.
Her school splits each grade into two teams – one white and one maroon – for academic and other purposes. Kids on the same team will have more classes together and share the same teachers. Every year the 8th grade girls hold a Powder Puff game. It’s a flag football game that pits the girls of white against the girls in maroon. As you can imagine, bragging rights among Middle Schoolers is a pretty big deal, and so was this game.
I mentioned in a blog that this was the first year that I’ve coached soccer. My son’s (Zach) team needed a coach and so I gave it a shot. It is a recreational league that gives kids the opportunity to play without the pressure of having to win every game. Our last game was Saturday. After the game I reminded the kids and parents about what I had said at the first practice: “Having fun is the most important thing. If you have fun while learning about the game, even if we don’t win a game this season, I’ll consider this season a success.”
Then I said to the kids, “Did you have fun this season?” When they responded with a resounding “Yes!”, I noted, “Good, ’cause we didn’t win a single game!” A self-fulfilling prophecy wasn’t what I’d had in mind, but it was a good way to show that I had meant what I’d said.
Being in a performance driven society really messes us up spiritually. I’ve learned to be a risk taker because life is boring otherwise, and because it’s the foundation of an impregnable and growing faith. The difficult thing about faith is that you don’t always get what you want. You don’t always “win”.
So I’ve learned that there is something to the notion that you have to learn how to lose before you can know how to win. Jessica has been on teams that weren’t very successful. She’s been on mediocre teams. She’s been one of the best on her squad in some cases and not a starter in others. But, because she knows what it’s like to not be on top – and to be okay with that – she reacted beautifully to trouncing the maroon team in the highly touted Powder Puff game.
Am I more happy to hear her name shouted from the announcer than I would be if she didn’t do well? Absolutely. Am I more proud? Not in the least. If I give my kids the impression that the people who seem to be the most successful are the ones who should get the greatest approval from society, then there will be a fear of failure. With the fear of failure comes a hesitancy to try.
Does that sound like your church?
It’s a fine line to walk, this balancing act of living life to the fullest extent (including having fun!) and at the same time proving ourselves to be effective – especially if it’s for God’s glory. Feel free to try something that you may not accomplish. If the world doesn’t give you kudos, you can be sure that your God will.