Our eight-year-old boy was playing goalie at last weekend’s soccer match. He stopped a couple of balls and was congratulated by some of the boys on the team each time. As he hurled the ball back into play, they would call out, “Good stop! Way to go!”Then one got past him. The other team scored.And those same teammates said something our boy couldn’t quite make out. I couldn’t tell, either. From the tone, however, he got the impression it was negative. Their cheers felt more like jeers.He shouted out, “I’m doing the best I can!”The others didn’t reply or acknowledge him, so he shouted even louder:”I SAID: I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN!”He returned to his spot to protect the goal with a furrowed brow.The game continued and he did fine.But I kept thinking about that moment, that heartfelt cry to the team:
I’m doing the best I can!
How many of us are feeling that we’ve done our best and yet let someone down? How many of us are longing for forgiveness or to be understood, appreciated, and accepted unconditionally when we drop the ball? I wonder if my boy—if all of us—are asking, Will you love me even though I messed up?My dear boy, the world will be fickle.When you stop the ball as goalie, the world will cheer—but don’t be surprised if they jeer when one gets through. As you experienced, your own team may indeed criticize you and tear you down. It’s sad, but it may have happened. It may happen again.Don’t be like the world.Cheer when another goalie on your team stops the ball, but be sure to encourage him if one slips through.Tell him what you wish you had heard. “It’s okay! You’re doing great! I know you’re doing your best!”Cheer for your teammates who score, even if they hogged the ball and kept you from having a chance. “Way to go! Good shot!”And here’s the thing: don’t let the world define your worth.Whether you’re doing your best or messing around. Whether you score or let the other team score. It’s not about your performance.You are loved.No matter what.
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