Over the last few years, I have sat in the stands as a mascot mom - this year I am a football mom. It has been an adjustment to say the least. Learning the calls, the plays, the timing and the protocol in general. My son didn't grow up playing football, but decided his eighth grade year to try out. I really didn't know exactly how I felt about it. I was of course worried - worried he would be hurt, worried he would get picked on for being small or confused on the field, worried he would mess up and be discouraged and worried that someone in the stands would blame him for the loss of a game.
As a mascot mom, I cheered for the team right along with him. Danced when he danced and yelled when he yelled. Though he was with the cheerleaders, he was in a sense acting alone. He didn't for the most part depend on another to carry out a cheer or a dance, he had his own skits and movements for each cheer and song. He was led by his own actions, he was encouraging to others, and he had pride in his school. He went on that field each night wanting to boost the spirits of others whether it be on the field or in the stands. We cheered for every player because it was his part in the game. His part didn't affect the game, at least I didn't think so.
This season, he has joined 40+ other boys on the field to play football. He has now taken to the field his encouragement and school pride. And yes, I am still the mom you hear from the other side of the field - cheering on the team. Notice I said the team - not just my son, because what I learned from my son the last few years is that to cheer for one is not enough, but to cheer for a team could set 10,000 a flight and boost morale. There are many players that have no one in the stands for them and there are many players who could use a shout out of encouragement after possibly the worst day at school or home. My spot in the stands as a football mom is different now, my son is one of those players. My heart aches when a play doesn't go as planned and it aches when a player puts his head down and is defeated, but my heart rejoices for the plays that are successful and it rejoices for the player who pats another on the back in celebration. My moments in the stands have shown me that no matter how many times a play has been practiced that getting out on that field is a whole 'nother ball game for the players and the coaches. My moments in the stands have shown me that we in the stands spend more time complaining, more time insulting, and more time judging. My moments in the stands have shown me that we spend less time cheering, less time encouraging and less time teaching. Our time spent in the stands is disappointing. We are part of the game, what we do from the stands affects the game, the players, the coaches and our school.
What are we saying to our children when we yell from the stands inappropriately? What are we saying to our children when the same voice that can be heard above everyone yelling at the players for messing up, referees for bad calls or coaches for bad plays? Where was that voice when a play was carried out successfully, where was that voice when a 1st down was made, where was that voice at the start of the play and where was that voice after the game?
At the end of the day, it's just a game. It doesn't define who we are if we win or lose. We are defined by how we handle that win or loss. We are defined by how we played, not the scoreboard. We are not defined by our failures or successes, but what we did to get there. We are not defined by a rule book - We are defined by HIM. Our Lord put us here with purpose and our purpose was not to just sit in the stands and let moments pass us by. We should be praising HIM even if we do lose. We praise HIM because he gave our children legs to run, arms to catch, friends to play with, coaches to teach, and parents and family to encourage them. We praise HIM, because even when we are not worthy HE still blesses us. Blesses us with a world that lets our children play in a game that teaches more than just a play. HE blesses us - win or lose - HE blesses us!