AdversityFamily ValuesMental ToughnessParenting

The other day I was on a live webinar with a couple of dozen parents of young athletes, almost all moms. They were there to gain some insight into how they could best support their children on the sporting journey across a variety of sports. I was asked a question that is a very common one.

“What are you supposed to do when your kid is struggling? My daughter lost her starting spot and is very discouraged. She is thinking about quitting. What am I supposed to say or do in this moment?”

I hear versions of this question all the time. And I think this question goes beyond sport in many ways. What are we supposed to do when we face adversity? How do we get through the storm? How do we help our loved ones when times are tough? No one goes through life without storms. It’s all about how you view those storms, the adversity, and the obstacles that eventually determine what you might achieve, and the person you will become.

This is also very timely because my daughter is a senior in high school. She is done with club soccer and now with high school soccer. There has been plenty of adversity along the way for her, and I have been thinking often about how that adversity helped her grow.

The other day I was talking with a long time coaching colleague and friend, and we were both discussing some adversity we were facing in our own lives. He sent me a wonderful text afterwards that included a an episode from the Elevation podcast with Steven Furtick that was brilliant, and so very timely. The title of the sermon was “The Storm Has Its Purpose.”

The pastor explained that in the New Testament, every time there was a miracle it was almost always followed by a storm or other form of adversity. That time of struggle was almost always followed by another miracle. He explained that often times we get stuck in the storm, and we focus only upon the adversity that we are facing in the moment. But if we look at the storm not as an ending, but simply a stage we must get through between two miracles, our whole perspective changes. When we have faith that on the other side of struggle there is light, we can push through. And when we push through, we grow.

His incredibly poignant summation of all this was the following statement.

“Don’t ever put a period where God put a comma.”

I’ve repeated that quote many times this past week in many different scenarios but it holds especially true in athletics. As our young kids travel through their sporting journey, there are going to be times of incredible highs, and there are going to be storms. I meet so many parents who treat the storm as a period and not a comma. They treat it as something that has to be removed or avoided instead of something that will offer an opportunity to learn. They treat it as the end of the journey instead of a phase that will allow for tremendous growth and learning, if we are able to step aside and allow that growth to happen.

Now I am not saying that there are not moments where we must intervene, where our children are put in dangerous situations. But often times they are just in difficult situations, whether they face competition for a spot, or are not selected for the team they hoped to make, or are asked to play different positions or have a tough coach that is demanding more of them that has ever been demanded before. In these times of difficulty, during the storms, we must learn to ask ourselves “what’s good about this?“ instead of “how can we prevent this from happening?“

So, as you go through these next years on your child’s sporting journey, I hope you will keep this idea in mind. I recently attended my daughter’s final high school soccer game, and I reflected back on all the moments of adversity that led to that final game, to that final victory, to a role as a leader and team captain. It was not a smooth journey by any means for her. There were injuries and illnesses, years of only making the B team when her heart yearned to be on the A team. There were good coaches and not so good coaches, good games and not so good ones. There were incredible wins and heart-wrenching losses.

Her mom and dad were not perfect along the way. We made many mistakes, all out of great love. But I do think one thing we did well was recognize that every storm had its purpose. We were committed to allowing difficult times to run their course, so growth could happen on the back end. We recognized that we shouldn’t put a period during a time of adversity, but instead put a comma, knowing that on the other side of the struggle there was the potential for a miracle. I hope you find the time, the patience, and the wisdom to let the storms that lead to miracles happen in your child’s life, because it is worth every tear you shed in the moment.

Enjoy the journey everybody, it goes by so fast.


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Tagged under: adversity, mindset, Parenting