Saturday, September 22, 2012

Finding Your Fit

Last Fall our R signed up to play PeeWee football. It only took a couple of hundred dollars of equipment and a few practices for us to realize that it was going to be a long twelve weeks of teachable moments.

As much as R loves watching the sport and playing it in our yard or on the Wii, the league version of football was not his cup of tea. Turns out, he despises being tackled. He could never get comfortable in the equipment. The other kids towered over him. Practices were long and frequent. To top it all off, our team only scored once all season.

The experience was brutal on our whole family. R's already fragile 7 year old confidence took a hit. I don't have a single picture of him smiling the whole season. The dread of practice lasted all day long. I resented all the missed family dinners. There were a lot of tears. I confess I seriously considered throwing the character lessons out the window and letting him quit because it would make my whole family's life more peaceful.

We stuck it out (because my husband is a bigger fan of endurance than I am) and R ended the season considering it a good experience. I sighed with relief and mentally marked it off his list, praying he would find something else to try this Fall.

Fast forward 10 months and he is pad, helmet and tackle free on Friday nights on the soccer field. I'll let you decide how it is going...
As I watched him last night I couldn't get the smile off my face. He was happy, working hard, having fun and doing well. It seems he has found his fit.

It got me thinking about the parallel in my own life--how often we try to force something to fit that just doesn't. We buy that piece of ill-fitting clothing because we WANT it to fit. It looks so good on the model--we cram ourselves in, attempting to force it to work for us. We make similar efforts when it comes to an admired hobby/church/talent/school/clique. We want that to be our story.

As I flip back through my memories I have a 'hall of shame' of groups, boys, lifestyles that I tried to force fit myself into...and I am quite sure my soul felt a bit like R's...weighted down, tired, full of dread and disappointment. Ugh.

There is nothing wrong with football--it just wasn't for my R in this season. Only when he was able to let go of his plan and try something else was R able to discover something far better suited for him. I am reminded how important it is, even as adults, to keep trying new things and being open that our plan for what we want  life to look like may not always be what we were designed for.

We have to let our fairy tales die sometimes to take hold of the rich story God has written for us. But, oh, the freedom and release in those moments when we find our God-designed fit, our place in the body, the service areas that God designed for US.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. 
-Galatians 5:22, 25-26 The Message

*I hope this goes without saying, but I feel compelled to add a postscript. Honoring our word and commitments is a vital part of living truthful, character-given lives. This observation is really more about talents, service areas and development not meant to condone breaking promises when things get hard.


Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a while least a couple of years. I must tell you that your blog is truly a blessing to me. So often what you are going through seems to be very similar to my own situation and the Lord uses your transparency to minister to my heart. This is my first time to actually comment! Having just attended my 20 year class reunion in Nashville (I live in South Florida), I have been doing quite a bit of relecting on my life. I see SO many things that I tried to make work, fit, etc. I have realized how much time and effort were spent on the wrong things! God has used every mistake or wrong attitude or wrong turn to bring me exactly where I should be, and He gets all the glory! Thank you for your heart. :)

HW said...

When our son was in 7th grade he was on the school basketball team with a very intense and controversial coach. I did not want him playing for this man. Our son actually started sinking into a depression - going into his room at night, not eating, not talking. He had played pee-wee football for some hard coaches and never reacted like this. It was horrible. One night he said (at age 13) "Mom, I am emotionally drained from dreading practice every day. I'm exhausted just from the worry." I pulled him out that moment.

This is not to say kids should quit when they are merely not in their niche; but we did break our "stick to it" rule with this. No child at such a young age should be emotionally drained about anything. This coach scarred my son in just a few weeks time and I felt horrible for not putting my fut down before try-outs even occurred because I KNEW what would happen.
From that I learned that sometimes it is okay to let our children stop an activity. Adults change jobs, find a new church, give up volunteer activities when they don't mesh; so I think it's okay to think it through and let our kids have that option as well - when the situation calls for it.

And I admit that our situation has made me extra sensitive to this issue; so I might be too quick to pull the "quit" lever now.

It is such a hard call with our kids but I am so glad your R is happy in soccer. I love it when kids just find their place.