This past summer I signed Declan, my oldest son, up for his first organized sport. Of course, it was soccer. I had dreamed for years about having kids and taking them to their games and practices. When the day of his first practice came, like so many days, I was entrenched in the busyness of life. It hadn’t hit me yet that my dreams were becoming reality. How often do we miss things, or forget to take in moments for what they truly are because we’re scurrying from one thing to the next? Sadly, I do often!
What Kind of Sideline Parent Would I Be?
I arrived early with both sons, Declan and Kylan, in tow (Soul hadn’t joined us on this side of the womb yet). A huge accomplishment in itself. I had thought about this a lot. What kind of ‘sideline parent’ would I be? Sure, I’d never be one of those crazy parents. You know that dad or mom that just screams and yells at their kids all game? Of course, I’d cheer and encourage. But then again, this was a first in my life. I really had no idea how I’d respond. What if he hated it and never wanted to play again? What if he wasn’t good? Then I’d remind myself, “He’s freakin’ four years old. Get a hold of yourself!” Don’t judge me!
“Everybody bring it in!”
The coach yelled, signaling the start of practice.
This is it. It’s really happening. I bent down. Locked eyes with my sweet son. And gave him the only advice that came to mind; “if anybody tries to take the ball away from you son, kick em. Hard!”
Relax, only kidding. “Declan, work hard and have so much fun buddy. I’m so proud of you,” is what I really said.
I had no idea that my world was about to get rocked.
I settled in once practice started. I got my youngest Kylan all hooked up with a fresh bottle of milk and some toys. And then I watched. I took it all in.
Ah, I tell you what, it was JOY. Pure joy filled my every being. Seeing my son, my healthy son (Thank you Jesus), running and smiling and playing the game that gave me so much. It was indescribable! It was literally one of the greatest and most pure moments of my life. One I’ll never forget!
The fears I had before practice. Gone. The anxiety and stress. Gone. I wasn’t consumed with how good he was. I wasn’t comparing him to any of the other kids. I was simply relishing in the moment. That that was my boy out there.
He’s Our Biggest Fan!
I think God looks down on us in the same way. He’s our biggest fan. But to a much greater degree. Simply because, He’s a perfect Father. Unlike me. Or any other dad. As humans, we’re all the same. Broken. Weak. With many faults.
Regardless of what your past was like. What obstacles you’re facing. How ‘bad’ or ‘screwed up’ you think you are. God’s fighting for you. He’s for you. “That’s my boy! That’s my girl,” I imagine Him bragging. “Keep going, don’t give up”… “I love you sweet child of mine. I’m always here for you”… “Great job ______! I’m so proud of you _____!”
Oftentimes, the relationship we have with our dads skews our view of our Heavenly Father. I don’t know what kind of father you have or had. Or even if you had a relationship with your dad at all. But we must remember, God is not our earthly father. Far from them. He’s good. He’s gracious, merciful, kind and forgiving… He’s always there for us… He’s patient, slow to anger, not abusive in any way. He’s not mad at you. He’s mad about you! He’s crazy about you! And He loves you more than you can fathom!
Which Reminds Me…
I’m so fortunate that I had a great father growing up. A gift and blessing too many aren’t afforded. My parents never made me feel like I didn’t measure up. Never! God blessed me with a great ability to play soccer. Regardless, my parents loved me for me. They absolutely wanted me to excel. But, they never made me feel like I had to perform a certain way in order to be accepted. Regardless of whether I played good or bad, they were always there for me. After every practice and every game. With a hug, loving words, and whatever else I needed. Their presence meant the world. A gift I understand more and more now as a father.
Be bold. Be brave. Keep the faith!