I covered this in an earlier post, but Princess 1.0 left her first sports love just before the summer started. Pushed to the decision (we actually made it for her), she was faced with finding new things to try and learn. She had never played an organized sport. Outside of gymnastics, she had never been on a team. No soccer. No volleyball. No softball. No other sport that required her to learn the rules, the skills and compete as a team vs. another team. So why share this now?
Because my middle child has taught me how to be brave.
In October she decided to try out for the 5th grade girls travel basketball team. She didn’t know the rules of the game. She had no idea how to play defense. But the tryout came and she made the team. We immediately went into full training mode in order to get her ready for the season. We got out a wipe board, drew a court and literally explained what all the lines were for. I explained the rules and what you could and could not do. She was “drinking from a firehose” learning all she could.
Practice came and then the games. Each week she got a little bit better. She was hungry to learn more. After one game we were driving home and she said “Dad, what can I do to get better before our next game.” On Sunday, she earned her very first start of the season from her head coach. According to his text – “Let Emma know she is by far the most improved player this year and she deserves it.” She started, scored and played her heart out.
Now before you write this off as a brag post about my daughter (which I am happy to do), there are so many lessons here for us all. I had to give some context to get there.
1. Step Into It. – As we walk through this life and our careers, we will lose our first love. External and internal forces will cause us to leave the one thing we’ve ever known and loved. For our daughter, it was what was best. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but it WAS for the best. When that time comes, step into whatever is next. It won’t feel natural. It will feel completely foreign, step into it anyway.
2. Embrace it. - Although she was overwhelmed, my daughter never quit. She was open and available to all of the teaching and instruction she could get. Even in the middle of the “season” she asked what she could do to get better. When life moves us to something new and different, embrace the change. Be available and open to all that you can learn. Set your mind to get better and not bitter.
3. Weather it. - After early success in learning the rules, the skills and the game, my daughter hit a wall of sorts. When practice time changed to actual games, she struggled with the pace and transferring all that she had learned to actual game applications. Just last night she was struggling at practice and cried on the way home. We will do the same too. When the dust clears on our new transitions, we may struggle too. We might wonder why we’re here. We may wonder why we’re even trying to do this. Weather it. Stick with it. Don’t give up. As I told her, the next step forward in her learning and skill is just around the corner. We’ll suffer setbacks, but if we weather it, we will be stronger.
4. Trust Your Teammates. - One of the greatest things she mourns about leaving gymnastics is her teammates. Now she has new teammates. They haven’t spent countless hours in the gym like they do in gymnastics, but they are working together for a common goal. With each practice, they are investing in one another. They are learning to trust one another. God will bring people into your life as you walk through new beginnings to be your teammates. As you spend time with one another, you will learn to trust them and lean on them too. They will be the people that will walk through this “season” with you and the friendship will extend far beyond this current moment.
5. Celebrate It. - When my daughter got that text that she would start, she showed several family members. It was her moment and she celebrated it. All of the hard work, changes, learning and tears came together in that moment. She celebrated it and then re-enforced the decision by playing her best. Our transitions will offer us moments to celebrate too. There will be days and opportunities for us to share all that is happening in our transition. They may be small victories, but they ARE victories. Take a moment to celebrate it.
6. Be Brave. - Last but not least, be brave. I wish you could all see Emma out on that court. I have been shocked to see how aggressive and brave she has been. My little gymnast gets right down in the middle of the paint and mixes it up with the biggest and strongest girls from the other team. Her cheeks get red and reflect her hustle. While she’s not able to shoot and dribble as strong as those that have played longer (yet), she offers the team all that she has in other ways. Our transitions are no different. When you step into whatever it is that is new, give it your all. Be brave and mix it up with those more experienced. Give all that you can give at what you can do while you’re learning to get better at what you cannot. It helps the team and it strengthens your confidence too.
Life will force changes to each of us. Watching my little girl has given me so much inspiration in transitions. Her resolve to get better and make this her new love inspires me to do the same. She has embraced the change. She has stepped into the change. She’s weathered the tough times and celebrated the little victories. Most of all, she has taught me how to be brave.