Soccer Squalls

Today there’s a collision in my mind between the present and the past. Today’s drama is with girls’ travel soccer and it’s fighting with the memories of sailing with my father long ago.

I remember the squalls that might hit us when sailing — sudden, violent winds that could whip up on a lake or the Chesapeake Bay without warning. The other meaning of squall — to cry out raucously or to utter in a strident voice — is the politest way of describing my Dad’s typical captain’s voice when racing. It’s so well-known that sailors yell at their crew that I’ve heard there’s a women-owned business that teaches sailing named  “We Don’t Yell.”

It’s not that we yell at girls’ travel soccer games. In fact, we are so subdued that it’s frustrating.  Our official family job at the games is to hand out lollipops to parents so they don’t coach from the sidelines. Or scream directions. Or show exasperation from a dismal winter season losing every game. More difficult is to stay quiet when the losses erode a child’s self-confidence and joy of the game.

But as frustrated as I was with my father’s tough sailing voice, years later when I was with a friend sailing off Long Island and a really scary squall hit, I could follow his captain’s screams. I knew what he needed, I knew we were truly in peril, and I knew the cost of the boat he co-owned with four others. We made it to port safely, and when he thanked me for not trembling under the stress and harsh words, I knew that my father’s lessons had value.

So as the soccer girls and parents weather through a season of endless, boring foot skills, and disastrously matched games with older and more highly-ranked teams, I feel the squall building inside me. I want to scream. But simultaneously, I want our daughter to weather a tough season, to learn the enduring value of sportsmanship, to know that anything you love can have seasons when you don’t see growth. I want the difficulties to strengthen her and not break her spirit and there’s a fine line between the two.

My prayer is that as a parent I can look to the Lord for help with anything — even soccer. To love Him and continue to learn, so that I can be strong as stated in Matthew 7:25, “The rain came down, the flood came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house, and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock.”

So I’ll drown out the boisterous storm gathering in me, take comfort in His words (and those of more experienced parents) and stand strong. Who knows when the real winds of adversity will hit our daughter, and I pray that her lessons today have value in the future.

Blessings and kind regards to you all.

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