It was a cool crisp night in the beginning of November. Kids were bundled in fall gear and the season of pumpkin flavored everything was in full swing. I had just parked my vehicle at the local highschool in a nearby town. Though it was a Tuesday night and practically pitch dark outside the highschool itself was buzzing with excitement and liveliness. I was on my way in to support my daughter’s cheerleading squad in their second competition of the season. These girls had been working profusely for months. They spent hours and hours on end practicing their stunts, perfecting their skills, expanding their talents. It was more than solely varsity cheerleading for the football team. These girls had created true bonds. They provided support to eachother, encouraged eachother and motivated eachother. Weekly or biweekly pasta dinners were met with delight. Slumber parties with late night into early morning chit chatter and movie fest began setting the tone and foundation for highschool memories to come. They practiced tirelessly for hours everyday. They remained focused and dedicated to their sport. And so here I was, in line ready to purchase my enterance ticket to support and cheer my girls to their sweet victory. Only thing is that in this case victory is subjective to more than meets the eyes.
By all accounts I could be called bias as my daughter is on the cheerleading squad. Surely as mothers, as parents we sometimes want to overlook the flaws of our children and rather place them on a pedalstool and praise all that is great, virtuous and profound in them. In moderation and with caution surely this can boost a child’s self esteem and lead them to focus on bettering such qualities. However as a mother, as a parent it’s my job to use my wisdom and discernment in maintaining my feet firmly on the ground and seeing things for how they are rather than how I would like to showcase them to be. In this scenario the truth of the matter was that this cheerleading squad, this group of girls delivered phenomenally. My heart gleed with joy and excitement as they hit every beat, landed every stunt and wooed all the crowd (or so I believed). I couldn’t have been prouder.
But here’s the thing, this amazing squad, this group of such talented, lovely and skilled young ladies did not woo the judges. They did not place first. They didn’t even place second. They placed third and therefore lost their opportunity for the regional championship. My daughter, who just 30 minutes ago had been crying tears of joy for her squad perfecting their routine and delivering exceptional results was now in tears for the judge’s call. When I say our home fanbase was somber it’s truly an understatement. We were flabbergasted, confused and upset. Surely this was a mistake. How had they placed third when the other squads that placed 1st and 2nd had performed mistakes obvious to the eye? How had our girls come in third when those who came in second slipped twice and missed a stunt? Upset and confusion are not the correct terms. We felt outraged. Politics. Of course the home team placed second over our girls. It was rigged. Of course they wouldnt lose at a competition being held on their ground. They were afterall, hosting the invitational. It all comes down to politics.
And so I found myself trying to comfort and console my crying teenager while trying to educate her on this lesson that she had to learn and would continue to learn through life. Life does not always return what you put in, at least not immediately. You can be the best version of you, put in so much work, time and effort. You can be so giving of yourself, dedicated and charitable and you still may not win the prize or gain the recognition. You can know how amazing and talented and valuable you are and yet others can be completely blinded to your worth. You can be invincible to some but replaceable to others. Sadly this is life. You have to know that regardless of what they lack to see in you that you are still amazing and you did amazingly and you will continue to be amazing by just being. The problem is not you. The problem is in the one that fails to see. And just because they cannot see your worth does not mean you are worth any less. It means that they fail to have the vision that they need.
I had to continue to teach that many timea if not the majority of the time bad things happen to good people. Why? Because we live in a fallen world. Bad things happened to Christ and He is the son of God how could we not expect that things may happen to us that we would wish otherwise? But the bible says you reap what you sow… this is true but your rewarded may not be reaped for many years. It may not even be reaped in this lifetime and may come about when we reach Heaven. And so we can’t cease doing the good work and putting in the work because some day when we least expect it but perhaps when we most need it we will raise up a harvest. This defeat turned out to be an opportunity to teach a valuable life lesson. Life usually happens like that.
It was also a teachable moment for me as a reminder of all the lessons I was teaching my daughter but also needed the reminder of wisdom for myself and the reminder of relationship and dialogue with God. I was so confident that they would place that I thought no big deal to pray about it. Even when my daughter asked me to pray I told her they would be fine and not to worry. And I’m not saying prayer can manipulate God into giving into our demands ( trust me I’ve tried before) but sometimes prayer can move God’s heart and hand. Sometimes prayer does not but at least you covered yourself and the others and situation in prayer. All the time God just wants to be invited into friendship and relationship.
And so on the first day of November on the crisp, cool autumn night we were taught through all the confusion and somberness that though others dont recognize our worth that neither did they recognize Christ’s and that alone speaks for itself.