This past fall she started going to a gym here in town. Her goal was to get her back handspring down for cheer tryouts in the spring. She continued to work hard every week and began to overcome her fears. She chose to start going twice a week this winter to reach her goal. Every afternoon she would get on the trampoline in the backyard, and kept improving until she had it down pretty good. My wife and I were so proud of her.
The week for Jr. High Cheerleader tryouts finally arrived. Megan and the rest of the girls were given the instructions for the tryouts. They were told what cheer they needed to memorize, what they needed to work on, and what they needed to wear. Megan worked, and worked, and worked, and practiced, and practiced, and practiced. She had practice every afternoon at the school, her two nights of tumbling, and she even attended an additional work out with one of the High School Cheerleaders the night before the tryouts. She was ready!
She came home that Friday afternoon to get ready for tryouts. Donna helped fix her hair and put a cute bow in it, and she looked so pretty! It was surreal to watch them work together, and I couldn’t help but think about how she is growing up so fast! I drove her to the tryouts and dropped her off. We couldn’t be there at all, so she was on her own. My stomach was honestly in knots for her, but she bee bopped right up in the middle of it. She was ready.
I came back and picked her up after tryouts were finished, and she was so excited. She felt it went very well, and several folks even told her she sounded great from the next room. She had gotten compliments all week at practice. She was feeling great and she said, “Daddy, I did all I could do.” She was right. She put in the hours and hours of work, and had done all she could do. We headed home to pack because we were going out of town the next day for spring break. Not long after we arrived home she fell asleep on the couch. She was exhausted.
A few hours later we got the text that the results were up. Each girl had been given a tryout number, and they were going to post the girl's numbers that were selected. Megan was still sleeping when we found out, so we looked before she did. Her number wasn’t there. We looked again. Nope still wasn’t there. My heart sank. I knew what was coming. We looked on social media and started seeing some of the girls that did make it, and I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was angry. How was this even possible? I found myself thinking some thoughts that I’m ashamed I even thought. This wasn’t right at all. This wasn’t FAIR! She had worked hard. She was prepared. There was no way that those girls were better than Megan!
Donna told Megan and you can imagine her response. She was devastated. She saw who did make it and who didn’t, and she was upset all over again. We tried to console her. She still hurt. We tried to encourage her. She still hurt. We tried to make it better. She still hurt. The rest of the family tried to make sense out of it. She still hurt. Let’s just say it was a hard night.
Me? What was I thinking? I wanted justice! I sent an email! I sent text messages! I wanted to FIX it! But you know what? There was absolutely nothing I could do to change the outcome. It was done. Whether we agreed or not with what happened didn’t matter. Whether it was fair or not didn’t matter. There wasn’t a redo or a recount. It had been decided, and now all that mattered was how we responded. I wasn’t off to a great start in that area.
Things began to settle down, and I began to watch my daughter grow. I began to hear her words change from hopeless to hopeful. I listened as Donna spoke into her life words of life and encouragement, as only a Godly mom can do. I listened as Megan received her words. Then there was a knock at the door. The mother of one of Megan’s very close friends, that did make it, came inside with a bundle of colorful and bright flowers. The mom said that her daughter called from a car as she was traveling to New Mexico for spring break. The mom told Megan how her friend was weeping because Megan didn’t make it. She asked her mom to please go get Megan some bright flowers and give them to her as soon as possible because she knew Megan was hurting. She wanted to encourage Megan and give her something that resembled what she desired for her as well as something that expressed the kind of friend and person Megan was to her. Bright flowers were perfect.
As I write this, I find myself weeping. In the midst of such pain and true heartache, I was blessed to learn so much by watching a mom’s deep love for her daughter, my daughter’s dependence on what God thinks of her above the opinion of any cheer judge, and a friend’s love shine more brightly than the disappointment of that moment. It was powerful.
As the days have passed by, I have watched Megan become more determined. She has kept going to tumbling, didn’t quit, and is getting better and better each week. She is now doing multiple back handsprings and even learning a full back flip. She’s flipping over and over on the trampoline every day, and I see in her a determination that makes me so honored to be her dad. She did all she could do, and now she’s learning to “Stand.”
I love the way Eugene Peterson translated Ephesians 6:13-17 in the message. It says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.”
Megan did that! She applied God’s Word to the situation and has stayed on her feet. It didn’t knock her down. She isn’t blaming anyone. (I wanted to) She isn’t focused on who made it and wonder why they made it over her (although I have to admit I did). She is allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through her, applying God’s Word to her life, and the fruit is showing up all around her. She rejoiced with those that made it, continues to work hard for next year if she chooses to try out again, and our family gets to be blessed by the fruit flowing over in her life.
I love my family. I love my wife. I love my kids. But you know what? I’m learning how I respond in the midst of my kid’s disappointment & heartache is incredibly important. We can’t save our children or those that we love from pain and disappointment. It’s part of life. But what we can do is teach them to “stand” in the midst of it. They may falter. They may even fall, but when we walk with them through the struggle and point them to the one that is their savior, they can live a life like Ephesians describes, “when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon”
God does the saving! As a father, it’s my job to point Megan, and all of my children to Him. My job is to bear fruit and love her like God does, not change her circumstances to make her feel better. My time can be used so much more effectively by holding her in my lap and rocking her in the rocking chair after school so that she knows she’s loved. When she hollers, “Come watch me Daddy,” as she does new flips on the trampoline, I can go to the door and watch her over and over again. I can take the time to build a fire in the back yard and roast marshmallows and make S’mores under a star filled sky with her friends. I can pick her up from school, and go get a snow cone even when I’d rather go do something else. I can pray with her, kiss her on the forehead, and tell her that I love her every morning before she heads in for her last few months of 6th grade. Then get to hear the words, “I love you too Daddy,” as she shuts the car door.
As a father, there is no greater joy than to get to be a part of my little girl’s life, and the lives of my other children, and experience the Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control that flow from their lives as they learn to walk in the Spirit’s strength and not their own.
That’s our job as parents. I’m learning…I pray you are too.
I want to close by sharing a great blog that my wife Donna found the week after Megan didn’t make Cheerleader. It’s by a pastor from Fort Smith, Arkansas. Donna and Kevin went to church together years ago, and it is an awesome read. I encourage you to check it out because it gives some very practical insights on parenting when “Dreams Don’t Come True.” Here’s the link..http://www.kevinathompson.com/dreams-dont-come-true/