A few weeks ago I witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
I know suffering has a way of defining me. Well, in truth, it’s the way I respond to suffering that really signifies growth. It’s hard to describe to others unless they’ve gone through it. And we’ve all gone through it.
When the one suffering is my 6 year-old son, it’s hard to not want to immediately squelch the pain and make life better.
He’s a soccer player. Has been for three years with clinics and rec soccer. This is the third season I’ve been his coach. He’s average build for most kids his age, but he’s scrappy and competitive. When he’s on the field, he’s very much into the game, wants to win, gets mad, and fights hard.
This past weekend’s game was beyond challenging for him. Our team was down one player and then we lost another one at the half, which means no subs for about 20 minutes of playing time.
The other team had two big players who had no trouble knocking my son down several times because he gets into it every time. But, by the third time, he let it go and cried. “I can’t play anymore. I don’t want to.” I told him I know it’s hard but we didn’t have any subs and his team needed him. He cried for a few more seconds and got back into it.
Well, the other team scored at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It was now 2-0 and it set off the waterworks one more time. I don’t remember what I said. It certainly wasn’t Gene Hackman from Hoosiers. Truly, my words at that moment were not what he needed.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”
—Henri J.M. Nouwen
I gave him a hug and held him for a moment. I mean, we’re in a league where they don’t record scores, there’s no refs, no goalies…it’s four on four. But, it matters to these boys who are trying hard.
The momentum turned into sheer exhilaration as my son took on one of the big players and swiped the ball away. He had a break away.
The two big players, both on either side of him, were about to break in and capture the ball—one even started to pull on his shoulder and shirt—right before he made a clean, direct kick a good twenty yards out.
Twenty yards or one thousand yards or two yards. The kick was direct, undistracted, and targeted.
In it went.
He was smug, giddy, and proud. Best part, after he sauntered off, he ran to me. In all my years, that’s the single greatest soccer/sports moment I’ve witnessed.
I’m going to share the video with you in two seconds. But, I have a favor to ask of you.
Sit back where you’re at. Close your eyes (assuming you’re not driving while reading this) and take a deep breath.
Ask yourself this question, “When was I last proud of myself?”
Sports, family, business, education…whatever the moment was, when last you felt elated for something wonderful you did, live in that moment right now.
That is one of my biggest struggles. I’m my harshest critic. Today, I’m choosing to be joyful in my challenges.
Our stories are filled with great and sad moments. Moments where we thought we would be crushed or worse. And yet, here we are. In this shared moment. Instead of choosing to slump into that negative head space (which feels alls too sadly safe), open up and let the goodness in.
May you choose joy in whatever challenge you find yourself today.
(Bonus, you can hear my dad screaming the way he used to scream for me on the field. He’s joyful.)