Praying That My Children Succeed in the Face of Adversity
Adversity is defined as difficulties, misfortunes. Adversity is something we will all face at some point in our lives, some more than others. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that your reaction to the adversity is much more important than the adversity itself. How you overcome adversity is what determines the type of person that you are, and how your life’s story will unfold. I got to thinking about adversity and how it can change a person more recently when I watched my daughter break her ankle playing basketball. Anyone that knows Alexis knows that she has a deep love for the game, and truly enjoys working at it. To top it off, she is a fierce competitor in life in ALL things. I love to watch her play, and I start every day that she plays with a prayer asking God to keep her free from injury. The day that she was injured was no different. I awoke June 29th in bed at my hotel, and before I even opened my eyes, I prayed that God would keep her safe and that she wouldn’t get hurt in her games that day. She was about to play in the AAU Nationals, and she was super excited. Alexis had fought off several injuries in the past year while playing the game she loved. She had endured a sore back, a sprained wrist, pulled calf muscle, and sprained ankles. I knew her little body had been through so much this past year as she pushed through not wanting to ever miss a chance to play. This was the last tournament she would play in for quite some time, and then her body would finally get the rest it needed before the season started up again. I was mad! So very mad! Angry! When despite my praying and asking God to protect her, that she still got injured that day. As I sat in the ER with her in Cincinnati, I knew that me keeping it together would somehow define the way she reacted to this difficult moment in her life. She thought she was going to leave the hospital and play out the rest of the tournament if the X-Ray showed no fracture. She was fearless! I knew the news wouldn’t be good, and I had fully prepared myself for that. I began to prepare Alexis for some time off of sports. I remember looking at her and telling her that she has already witnessed several of her friends and teammates endure injuries, and that if she continued to play basketball as much as she currently did, that this would be the first of many obstacles for her. I told her this can go one of two ways: 1- you can sulk and feel sorry for yourself that something bad happened to you, 2- or you can follow medical orders to rest then work hard to get back to doing what you love. I knew that my adult self-teaching a 12-year-old this harsh life lesson had so much more wisdom and experience behind those words than her young brain could fathom at that moment, and that as much as it hurt me to see her down and out, that this could be a momentous teaching opportunity for her. As parents we all look for ways to teach our kids about life and its unfairness, and how we have to be brave and strong and fight through the obstacles that life brings. Everyone faces adversity at some time or another. Some face it daily, while for others it’s more sporadic. Some face it at a young age and grow to be who they are because of it. A friend of mine recently told me that she had a bad childhood and she vowed never to be a bad parent when she became a parent herself. And even though she hadn’t planned to become a mom at the young age of 20, she did her best to be sure she gave her kids the life she never had. Several weeks ago, she dropped her oldest kid off at college where he got a full scholarship to play basketball and he just recently played in his first game. I often wonder what separates those that can rise above adversity from those that succumb to it, sometimes leading to suicide, addiction, or a life of sadness and failure. When faced with a fork in the road of life, our choice in that moment becomes so pivotal. What road we take can often lead to a chain of events that only hindsight can reveal. We spend our lives praying as parents that our children don’t encounter adversity, just as I prayed that morning before the game for my daughter. We know it’s inevitable though. So then we pray that they have the tools to rise above the adversity and succeed despite it. I have no idea what the future holds for my children, but I witnessed a young girl put her mind to a goal and work for it. Despite anyone else’s doubt or uncertainty, even her own parents. She was going to do it because someone said she couldn’t. She was going to prove them all wrong. You know I never once saw that girl ask for sympathy? She never once asked, “why me?” She never regretted a single second of any of it. She looked me in the eye with confidence and conviction and told me that she would play again in August. And by the grace of God, with her doctor’s blessing, her therapist’s help, and a whole lot of discipline and hard work on her part, SHE PLAYED! After three weeks in a boot, she couldn’t even go up on her toes. The toughest little girl I knew, who from the day she was born was an overachiever, could no longer perform a basic human function. But to her that wasn’t a handicap; it was a challenge. It was a path to improve, to better herself. It was a way for her to prove she can still conquer the world. To me, that’s one of the best things about youth sports... it teaches valuable life lessons that can be applied off of the field, or rink, or in this instance, the basketball court. In addition to teaching you the value of being a teammate, or being a small part of the whole, and how to work together, it can prepare kids for the mental, emotional, and physical toughness that is needed to overcome adversity in life. It can teach you work ethic, discipline, ambition, persistence and comradery. Whether you are the child who grew up with an absent parent, the child who witnessed awful things happen to others or were the victim of heinous abuse yourself, if you were a child who endured the loss of a loving parent, if you are the adolescent hoping to make the right decisions in the face of peer pressure, or the young child finding the courage to stand up to the bully at school, if you are the high school student trying to get that ACT score to get into the college you want, or the graduate hoping to get the coveted job, if you are the parent who suffered the devastating loss of a child and you must muster the strength of going on daily without a piece of your heart, or the relentless mother who just knew that something wasn’t right with your child despite doctors telling you otherwise and you pressed on until he got the care he needed, or if you’re the caretaker who takes care of the youth or elderly who cannot fully take care of themselves... no doubt you have faced adversity, and without a doubt, you have had to exhibit physical, mental, and emotional toughness to get through it. I will still pray for an adversity-free life for my kids, although I know that’s impossible. But in addition, I will also ask that God give them the strength to choose the right path, to rise above their obstacles and to succeed in the face of adversity. Tonight, I get to coach my daughter as she starts her 7th grade school basketball season. I feel blessed to be able to do that. I also thank God for giving my daughter a passion: something that she loves so much that she knows the value of her time and hard work and is willing to sacrifice for it. I am thankful for the positives that came out of the negative for her, and I pray that she can always apply that same mental strength and determination in every aspect of her life no matter what she chooses to do, long after sports are over. As Mary Tyler Moore said, “you can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” Adversity is defined as difficulties, misfortunes. Adversity is something we will all face at some point in our lives, some more than others. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that your reaction to the adversity is much more important than the adversity itself. How you overcome adversity is what determines the type of person that you are, and how your life’s story will unfold.