I think it’s best to start this post with a disclaimer, a little clarification, that in no way, at all, am I implying I know much about anything involving sports. This post was comprised from a few Google searches and my own personal observations of a seventh grade basketball team. I’ve learned a lot.
Our oldest son has a love for fishing, soccer and basketball. He didn’t inherit any of those passions from his mom, and only one of them he can trace back to his dad. Jaron began playing soccer when he was four and basketball at five. Actually, he has interest in pretty much any physical outdoor or sporting activity, but over the years we have watched him hone in on his favorites.
You can only imagine our excitement and enthusiasm for him to play school ball this year. Attending games with parents we’ve met throughout the years of Upwards and booster club. Sitting in the stands watching him play in the same basketball gym we cheered players when we were students. Anticipating new memories with each game on the schedule. It was going to be great!
Well…..it wasn’t what we thought it’d be.
Honestly, I could just stop there.
How many times are we pumped up for a season and it doesn’t unfold into what we thought it’d be?
Like showing up every single day, early, and staying late giving every ounce of effort you have without a complaint and then being passed over for the promotion. Not what you’d thought it’d be.
Like getting up and sticking to that treadmill routine, staying disciplined to the eating plan, resisting the popcorn at the movies while every single person in your group is having some, with extra butter, only to get on the scale the next week and see not one pound has been shed from the efforts.
Like doing pre-marital counseling, making a ten-year plan, praying with and for your spouse, investing in their dreams and goals by personal sacrifice of time and money, then not feeling growth but rather decline in the marriage relationship.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned.
Sometimes things aren’t what we thought it’d be.
Kinda like seventh grade basketball for Jaron. He was eager. He was excited. He was at practice every single morning, five days a week, not missing one. He was on time, and even occasionally early when he could get his mom out the door to drive him there. He’d get home in the evening and practice free-throws, lay-ups and three pointers. He would shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. Whether it was ten degrees or seventy, because yes, we have those temperature swings regularly in Oklahoma, he was out there working to improve.
So you can imagine how hard it was for us to watch him sit the bench. One game he didn’t play at all. Not at all.
Oh the parent inside. You know the parent inside. I wanted to give the coach some insight into my child’s hard work. I also wanted to ask him why not only my child was sitting the bench, but several other boys, who were good ball players. I saw a team of talent being overlooked. But every now and then God shows me how He’s growing me, because this communicator who feels everything can be worked out for the better with a good discussion never said one word. Not to the coach anyway. But to the Lord and my husband, I poured out my heart.
At one point this was dropped into my heart,
“Heather, you have prayed for years now that Jaron would know the difference between confidence and arrogance. Allow the opportunities to teach him.”
And wow—the opportunity taught him so very much.
A couple things we talked about were….
Perseverance, Dedication & Commitment
The Lord spoke through my heart that one day Jaron may not feel appreciated or valued at his job, but he’s going to give his best because he’s personally learned what is it to have perseverance, dedication and commitment. That one day, when he experiences difficult times in his marriage, he’s going to continue giving his best because he’s learned what is it to have perseverance, dedication and commitment. And that was developed on the bench, not on the court.
Another quality developed on the bench—a mindset of service.
After one of the games I said to him, “Jaron, I couldn’t have been more proud of you if you were out there scoring every point. I watched you sit on that bench, knowing how deeply you desired to be playing, and you were cheering and encouraging your teammates. Not an ounce of the disappointment you felt kept you from staying focused on the team.”
Toward the latter part of the season, Jaron’s playing time increased quite a bit. And with it came the discussions emphasizing the mindset of service. “Serve the team well. If you have an opportunity to play, play for the team, not for yourself. That way, when you’re pulled out, it’s not about you, but about what’s best for the team.”
I get it. No one wants to sit on the bench. Here’s where my Google search got me. There were over fifty players on the rosters for the 2017 Super Bowl teams. Only eleven players from each team were on the field at a time. That’s a lot of players all dressed up to sit the bench for the most-watched television-sporting event of the year. But they’re still getting something out of it. And so do we!
“What do you mean, Heather?” I’m glad you wondered!
I’m talking about Romans 8:17 NLT “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”
May make ya wanna skip them both altogether. The glory may not be worth the suffering. Oh, but when the Lord is involved it is.
We are made into who He intended for us to be. We are developed beyond the tendencies of our nature. We are molded into more.
When life has you benched, when it feels it’s not worth the work, or the trouble, or the commitment, or the dedication, or the pain, or the suffering; remember, that in this world, all of it may very well seem worthless, but to God it’s the ingredients to produce something of great value!
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