Football is on my mind today since my youngest will play (hopefully) in his first middle school game ever. He's an 8th grader and a bunch of his buddies decided to go out for the team. Jonathan did well enough to be chosen and now reality has hit....he has to do what he's signed on to do! This little episode in his life has reminded me of one in my own, the time I decided to try out for the cheerleading squad.
1978 in small town America....football was king. Our little town was on the top of the heap in single A competition, having won the state championship in '77. Everybody, even my older parents, went to the games. As much as I liked football, I REALLY liked the cheers, the noise, the excitement of the crowd, so my dream of being a cheerleader was born.
Tryouts arrived. Keep in mind I had never taken one dance class, never participated in gymnastics...in fact my sister tried to help me do a back bend once and I fell on my head and saw stars. I had NO skills, but I had heart, or so I thought. I piled into the gym with the other girls and tried my best at doing a herkie (what in the world is a herkie anyway?) and various other tortuous movements. Sweat poured off of me, I grew breathless, and I grew very discouraged.
This is where I began to compare myself to the other girls, all girls I had grown up with and pretty much all friends. Suddenly they had been elevated to super star status in ability and I sank right down to the depths as the most clumsy, uncoordinated dump of a girl ever. Who was I kidding that I, Paula Mason, book reader and piano player, could ever hope to stand on the sidelines leading the town in rousing cheers?
I left that day and never went back. I talked myself out of it before I had even started, all because I compared myself to others and let my bad thoughts rule my mind. No one that day told me I was a failure...not one girl, not one coach. I told myself and put out the cheerleading fire with a resounding splat of negativity.
I watch my youngest as he journeys down this road of new experiences and I remind him that he can do it, can be strong and succeed. Setbacks are often what cause us to dig in and try harder and being discouraged is part of the game, but it doesn't have to be a game ender.
Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." That tells me it's time to stop looking at the negatives, all I believe I CAN'T do and trust in the Lord for the courage to move forward in the tough places. I'm here cheering for you, even if I can't do a herkie!