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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This is such a wonderful truthful article! I love it. This happens all the time in life and your advice is timeless. I hope we can change the way the world reacts by one example at a time. Our encouragement of others, will both encourage them and teach them by example how to be great stewards of any team.
Love you Ann! You are such a great example to me and encourage me all the time. I am grateful for this.
Have a wonderful day!
Lynn Hopper says
Do you remember one of the mothers of a fellow track team member when you were in school? She cheered for everyone, even members of the other team. Probably you don’t remember, because you were on the track. But in the distance runs, when some girls were coming in last, exhausted, ready to quit, she was urging them on: “you stay in there, honey! Don’t quit! You finish the race!” And they always seemed to perk up a bit and plod on in. Following her lead, some of the rest of us would urge on the laggers, too.
However, in your events, I don’t think I ever cheered for any one but you, and maybe some of your teammates!
I’ve always had a great deal of respect for that other mother, though, and sometimes think of her and try to urge on someone who is never going to win but still needs to “do the best they can”!
great article…great comments…
sometimes being misunderstood is just a part of life…I have experienced a great deal of peace in letting the Lord “fight” the battles for me…it is so much sweeter when He justifies you then when we try to justify ourselves…
rarely do we need to…
Wow, this post speaks truth.
Shari: Wow, thanks for this encouragement! My boy would love to have you on his soccer team!!
Lynn Hopper: Thanks for reminding me of this story … I wonder whose mom it was? I also love that it inspired others to do the same thing. That’s a good reminder that if we go ahead and do the right thing, calling out encouragement, it might “catch” and others may begin to encourage, too. What a hopeful comment, Mom!
shepherdsgrace: Great reminder. Letting the Lord “fight” our battles. It’s hard not to be defensive or to justify ourselves, but I can’t think of any time with Jesus did. If He could trust the Father’s will, I can, too.
Chrysanthemama: My little boy will be glad to know that his story helped people. Thank you for taking time to comment.
This is a beautiful story and a truth perfectly illustrated.
Alexis Herr says
Oh my goodness, this brought tears to my eyes. I was just having a conversation with DH last night (we’re in an insanely busy time and some things are falling through the cracks) and I told him that I wish I could just get points for effort. I feel like I’m screaming in my head “I’m doing the best I can!” all the time. Thank you for reminding that I am loved, and my performance isn’t what my worth is based on. **hugs**
Thanks for a beautiful post. My 5 yo son and I just had a talk about good sportsmanship, but you reminded me there is more to say.
My dad was the track team cheerleader, too. He was always the one to encourage those last stragglers to keep it up, finish the race, do the best you can.