Last week my husband, Dana, and I drove our nearly 17-year-old son to a four-day basketball camp in preparation for upcoming tryouts for the team at his top-choice college. Echoing in my ears, were my son’s words to me a couple of days before, “If I’m not good enough, everything I’ve worked for will be wasted.”
His words broke my heart, and not just for the obvious reasons. This is the kid who would lean forward in his rickety metal chair during the youth basketball program at the Bath YMCA, cheering his teammates on. It’s the kid who made sure I took him to the gym at 5 or 6 in the morning so that he could practice before school. It’s the kid who almost always has a smile on his face, whether he’s on the court or off, working his hardest.
This kid loves basketball but has chosen to play for a small Christian school. Only one other year, that I can remember, have we been able to afford to send him to a summer sports camp. And he has the worst deficit of all—a mom who can’t wrap her head around the various sports leagues and seasons, costing him important opportunities to play.
So, when I heard his words, I felt like I’d let him down.
But this is what else I know. He has passion. He has skill. He has hard-won discipline. And he has my grandfather’s long, lean body and grace. This may not be enough for my son to play ball for the team of his choice, but if he uses it well, God will show him what to do with it. Why else would God have given him these gifts?
“It’s not wasted,” I told him. “Do your best and trust God.”
It’s good advice for parenting too. Somedays doing your best means paying the mortgage instead of sending your kid to an elite camp. Some days it means saving and pinching your money so that he can go. But always it means, looking to God and trusting that he will lead, guide, and provide each step of the way.
“The LORD directs the steps of the godly,” says Psalm 37:23 (NLT). “He delights in every detail of their lives.”
This is my prayer for my son. It is my prayer for each of my children, that as they discover and develop the gifts and abilities God has given them—and as they pursue what is right—their lives will bring delight to God and to themselves and to others. It’s a path that’s available to everyone, regardless of academic or athletic performance, family income or size, geographic location or school: that God cares and wants to be involved in our lives.
And you know what? As we snuck in the gym that first day of camp to watch our son’s initial scrimmage, his feet flew over the court. His shots found the basket. And as he reached out to slap a new friend a high-five, I knew that he’d be just fine.