As I pulled up to the curb next to the soccer fields, I scanned the red shirted kids for my boy. Even when he’s a half mile away, I can pick him out of the crowd. But this time, I couldn’t find him. I recognized his team mates, running in tandem around the field. But my boy wasn’t in the pack.

Then I spotted him. He was way, way behind the rest. I could tell he was running as fast as he could, trying to catch up.

My heart sunk. Is he the slowest one on his team? It’s a new team, so maybe he’s not up to par with this group of boys. Maybe he hasn’t been running enough this summer. Or I haven’t been feeding him enough protein. Maybe I’ve let him watch too much TV, instead of shooing him out to play.

As I watched him struggle behind the rest, I could feel my stomach beginning to churn. Was this going to be a challenging season of bench-warming? I’ve lived those seasons before–where I spend every car ride to and from the field trying to urge my child away from the slippery slope of self-criticism/self-pity/despair.

My inner mom-heart groaned. It’s easy to be the mom of the kid who scores. It’s hard to be the mom of a bench-warmer.

A few minutes later, my son slid into the van with a grin on his face.

Well, he doesn’t seem to be too bothered by it. That’s good, I guess.

As I pulled out, I asked how practice was. He said it was fine.

I inwardly debated.¬†Should I mention what I saw? What if he’s trying to be brave for my sake? What if he needs to talk?

“I saw you running, there at the end. Were you doing ok?”

He said, “Oh, you mean when I was way behind? Yeah, Niko’s ball fell in this little stream and I volunteered to go get it for him. Then I had to catch up.”

I willed myself to keep from laughing out loud in relief. This was something to be proud of, not worried about! My boy had lagged behind because he was helping someone!

I think 98% of my worries are based on erroneous content. I glance up and miss the context. I hear only one side of the conversation. I compare my child to the resident super-star, rather than the average Joe.

But whether or not my worries are well founded, there’s not much I can do from my parking place a mile away. Much as I’d like to, I can’t cause my kids to always be ‘number one’. And God, who is far more in control of what happens with my kids, wouldn’t want this anyway.

God has a perspective that spans further than a game or a season. His coaching style is to create teachable moments for my kids–so that they can press into their struggles and get stronger. Sometimes God actually wants my child to be a bench-warmer. Other times, he wants him to learn how to handle success.

Either way, my job is to take my cues from their life coach–the One who created each of my kids and can coach them far more wisely and effectively than I can.

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