As we chase after Christ, there are times when we have to make the difficult choice to put character before our comfort. This is not an easy thing to do and to grow into. It can only be a part of who we are by situations that grow, challenge, and test us. As children get older, most parents try to shield their children from pain and hurt. We find ourselves hurting in watching them get stretched and wish to intervene. But when they arrive on the other side, we realize that the very road they journeyed is what grew them into who they are to become. Bear with me as I share an experience of this in our lives just recently.
Our girls have been playing competitive volleyball for the last 6 years. When they first started playing, their team was comprised of mainly new players like themselves. Their record of wins and losses was horrible, but they never gave up. Over years of perseverance and faith that hard work would pay off, they were able to win the title of State Champions in their league and also assist their team in moving from a Single A Division to AAA in just a few short years.
This past year as they were finishing their Junior and Sophomore years in high school, their ability to return to play for their team was extinguished by conflicts between adults and those that chose to use children to cause even more hurt. Attitudes and behaviors of the part of these adults that did little to glorify God. The hurt and feelings of betrayal were devastating.
After some initial healing and trying to move forward, the girls, Gary and I considered possible teams for them to play for to finish their high school careers. With much consideration and prayer, they chose a team that did not have a winning season. As a matter of fact, the team had one of the worst records in the league. This team was selected because of the Christian character that they showed on the court and the fact that they felt that they could contribute to building the program there.
In September, practices began. It was not easy. There were tears, moments of discouragement, and at times doubt in the decision that they had made. They missed their previous coach and teammates from their old team. They had to make a conscious decision to keep moving forward. And that they did.
Fast forward with me to this evening. Tonight, the girls and their new team were to meet their old team face to face on opposite sides of the volleyball net. There were feelings of grieving over what was lost. Fears of how they would measure up. And yes, anger that any of this had happened. They met a critical decision point. Would they play? How would they hold it together on the court? What would the end of the evening hold?
What I saw on the court amazed me. My girls played better than they have maybe ever played. Their serves were hard and strategically placed. They hit the floor hard in an effort to keep the ball up and in play. Their team rallied around them; some realizing the significance of the night and others not.
In the end, their team won in straight sets and rightfully should have been hollering over such a huge victory. They could have been bragging and boasting over beating a team who represented an organization that had rejected them. They could have become prideful in helping to bring a big win home to a team that had previously had little experience with victory. But that is not what I found. I found two girls in tears at the net. Girls that looked devastated. I walked to center court and we wrapped our arms around one another. After a few moments, this is what they shared
Right before the game, we realized that we had a responsibility to our new team to play our best. We realized that God requires us to use the skills and talents that He has given us for His glory. We did what we needed to do, but it hurts so bad knowing that our friends were on the other side of the net – our old teammates. We hurt in knowing that in playing our best they are going home with a loss.
Wow, what a momma moment! My girls knew what was easy and what would be required of them to be women of character. They chose character hands down from the first serve of the game right up to the time we walked off the court.
As we traveled home it struck me that God our Father probably feels the same way about me on a daily basis. So many times, He knows what is right and what needs to be done to mold me into His creation, but grieves in the pain that it causes along the way because He loves us so much. We don’t serve a God that lacks feeling or compassion. For this reason, I must believe that it grieves him when He must be harsh with me in order to be true to a higher standard.
In closing, I am happy to share that we ended the evening with ice cream and friends. The girls learned that true friendship exceeds the score on the scoreboard and even different color uniforms.
Stay encouraged my friends as you feel stretch and are challenged in choosing character over comfort. In the end, we will find ourselves being molded more and more like our Savior.