Our oldest son is playing soccer… has been since he was 4. He just loves the sport. If I say so myself, he’s really fantastic. I see so much potential. I don’t think he’ll ever play professionally… I don’t think that’s the path the Lord has him on… but who knows.
He began practicing with a Division 1 team last year. We were used to soccer in Georgia. We’d pay, I don’t know, around $175 and all 4 biggest kids would play- and have jerseys… and shorts… and even socks! Not in New Orleans! Most kids who are boy1’s age play with their schools or play premier. We aren’t against that… but would have to take out a loan to cover the costs. Greg worked out a deal (he’s great at these ideas) with the league. Since there weren’t enough players to play in the recreational league (the less expensive option) they would keep our rec. fees and let our son PRACTICE with a D-1 team. This was great! He’d still get to have the instruction, keep his soccer toes on and such. He did have an opportunity to play a couple games with them in a tourney at the end of the year (which he did very well in, by the way.) But I digress.
NOLA soccer. We decided to kick it up a notch and another “deal” ensued. The team dad-organizer guy really liked/likes boy1… he worked hard, received little to no recognition… and on. He is a “pull” player this semester (the new “deal”) for 2 teams- meaning either team can pull him in for games if needed/wanted. He is practicing with the same team… so the kids are noticing he’s “not like them”… he doesn’t curse… or make obscene talk. Well, it got a little more challenging. Last practice the boys were running sprint drills. I mean a lot of sprints- pretty much a whole practice’s worth. They were sent off one by one to avoid crashing into one another and such. The catch was this: If the guy behind you catches you then you run more laps. So off they go! The kid behind Boy1 says to Boy1 (using the big curse word twice :)… “don’t Mess with me and I won’t Mess with you.” So Boy1 passes him anyway… twice. The second time, the other kid had a “oh, go away” with the big word again.
So Greg comes home and tells me this story. You can imagine I was thrilled. “How DARE that kid talk to my son that way! How DARE he use that word toward him THREE times! Isn’t there an adult watching…” How do we walk our sons into manhood? Can I rescue him from this? Can I pull him out? Sure. We could. But we won’t. I know this is one of the things we have been preparing for for the past 13 years. How do I know? I believe the Spirit gives us insight and peace. Boy1 will have to learn to deal with the junk of the world. Do I like it? NO. Would I rather avoid? Yes. Is it smart? No. Train your children, teach them what is right and wrong, set a good example. PRAY! The Lord guides us in all things.
I was reading in Samuel last night. Imagine this. Hannah has prayed for a son. She has been barren up to this point and has been mocked for it (by Elkanah’s other wife… who has children). She desperately wants a son. Desperately. She promises the Lord that if He gives her a son she will return him to the Lord. So Samuel is born. She waits for him to be weaned (probably longer than our typical year) and takes him to the temple. Here’s the clincher: SHE LEAVES HIM. She leaves sweet Samuel behind and visits him once a year! As if our hearts aren’t ripped out already, she calls out to the Lord in song and doesn’t sound as mortified as I feel reading the verses.
“My heart exults in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.” She goes on. ” Even the barren gives birth to seven, But she who has many children languishes. The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings the low, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He set the world on them.” 1Samuel 2:1, 5b-8a
May we trust you, oh Lord, with our sons and our daughters in the same way Hannah trusted little Samuel to You.