Wednesday, July 26, 2017
“Whoa!” The ball sailed over right field, a solid home run. I glanced back toward the hitter’s mom with a big grin and congratulated her son. The two-run homer gave us the lead, as well as shifted our team’s momentum and energy in this otherwise slow, stifling hot summer game.
“Thanks, he needed that.”
I nodded in unspoken understanding, and turned back to cheer as both runners rounded the bases for home.
“He needed that.”
Gosh, don’t they all? The ones who are hitting, the ones who aren’t, the ones who are committed to colleges and the ones who have yet to. Doesn’t matter if these kids are seven or seventeen.
“He needed that.”
Just a brush of success, preferably with a dollop of fortune on top. We so long for our kiddos to feel encouraged. For external success to build them up. That “need” might be getting called off the bench and into the game. Or like this teammate of my son’s, a ball soaring over the right field fence. It might be an A, or even a passing grade, on a looming exam. Receiving the sought-after invitation. Or perhaps a need so basic as a loyal friend, for goodness sake.
After a particularly difficult season for one of my boys, my dad called me one evening and said, “He needs to go bowling.”
“Bowling. You know, it’s the kind of thing we do once every ten years. So we never get good at it. And then when we do go it’s with a group of friends, which shows off how terrible we are. He needs ten strong bowling outings. Ten good games to battle all of the failures and frustrations he’s endured lately.”
We never did go bowling, but I got my dad's point. I sure kept my eye out for those ten good outings. A success streak. We were so desperate at that point, I would have taken a “decent” streak.
Because believe me, he needed that.
And then the Lord did it. In ways that I could not ask or even imagine, with people and situations I could have never constructed, God provided a streak of successes. It was mostly gradual, with some explosive victories for good measure, along with occasional setbacks mixed in. We at times felt like two steps forward, one step back, but thank goodness for those steps forward!
It grew my faith to watch the Lord work in my son's life. In areas where I felt helpless, the Lord knew exactly what he needed - the good and the hard. He still does. And my faith continues to grow as I see the Lord working in each of my children's lives, trusting that He knows what each of us need.
As parents we have tremendous power to hold steady and encourage. Our attitude and words are powerful tools that can frame acceptance of the difficult things, as well as project good things ahead. We get to be the adult and rise above our own fear, or disappointment, or embarrassment, and hold steady that this is their life and the Lord is with them working it out.
Last week’s homerun was a concoction of that player’s steady practice, faithfully stepping up to the plate, getting the just-right pitch and hitting it just-right, ending in surprising success. The same at-bat could have been a strike-out.
And we get the privilege of leaning in and walking with our children - homeruns and strikeouts - and praying for creative parenting through it all. Always, always leaning in. With guidance and boundaries that will often not be popular. Using every ounce of our energy to listen, listen, listen. To say "yes" and laugh hard every chance we get. And then to trust the Lord with their hearts and lives.
He needed that.
And I needed that.