Wow is all I can say right now. My heart is full from what just happened at my son’s basketball game. Let me just begin by saying that Logan is not a natural basketball player. He’s much more comfortable playing on his iPad, reading, or just running around the backyard with his friends pretending they’re in Star Wars. So, when he decided that he wanted to try Upward Basketball this winter, he was stepping way out of his comfort zone. I heard from other mothers that Upward was a great place for kids to learn and be encouraged at the same time, so we agreed to give it a shot. After what happened today, I will join the list of mothers singing Upward’s praises.
Logan tries his best, but you can tell by watching him that he’s not confident on the court. He’s not even comfortable. When the ball comes toward him, he leans away from it so it doesn’t hit him. (He gets that from his mother, by the way!) His team was down 26-8 at the half. I saw him before the second half started, and I smiled, told him that he was doing a good job and to not be afraid. Then I sat down to watch what I thought would be a repeat of the first half.
I was wrong.
From early on, Logan just had the ball a lot more. I kept hearing his coach yelling instructions to him from the side. I wondered why he was putting so much attention on Logan. Then I started to notice things. I’m telling you, the whole mood in that gym was different. I saw Logan take the ball back across half-court when he shouldn’t have, and one referee signaled to the other to just let it go. I saw the coaches telling Logan to take the shot instead of passing the ball. The other team was even different. They were still playing, but they didn’t try to take the ball from Logan when it would have been easy.
They were all encouraging him. They all wanted him to succeed. His teammates, his coaches, the other players and coaches, and the parents watching were all rooting for him. And tears just welled up in my eyes at all these people, mostly strangers, being so good to my son. And it changed him.
He took the shots.
He missed, but he came closer each time. You could see the fear melting away from him. It felt like the final feel-good scene from a Disney movie where the kid who lacks confidence makes the final game-winning shot at the last second. Well, this isn’t Disney, and his team didn’t win…but Logan did finally make that goal. Even though his team lost, he came out smiling. Everyone there came out smiling.
What happened during halftime…
All this came about because of one kid. At half time one of Logan’s teammates went up to the coaches and said “You’ve got to let Logan make a shot.”
That one kid set the whole thing in motion. The coaches listened, the teammates listened, and they formed a plan. Their encouragement caused Logan’s confidence to grow. He was incredibly far out of his comfort zone by the end of the game, and he reached that point only because he could feel that everyone was on his side. He was given a chance by the kindness and graciousness of those around him, and he took it.
After the game the team met upstairs for snacks and to receive their stars for the game. Logan was given the game ball by his coaches, and the coaches also gave out two stars for “Christ-likeness” – one to Logan and one to the teammate who chose to think of Logan instead of himself. That room didn’t feel like the room of a team that lost. Even though the score on the scoreboard indicated a loss, the smile on the faces in that room indicated a big win.
Paying it forward…
“I feel confident about myself,” Logan told me on the way home. This is a day that he will remember. When a person feels confident, he will then encourage others. When a child is shown kindness, they will then show kindness to others. After we got home, Logan and his sister heard the ice cream truck coming down the street. Logan took his own money and bought ice cream for himself and his little sister. Showing grace to someone leads them to extend that grace to others. Encouragement is powerful. It’s contagious.
God tells us to encourage each other.
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
He knows how this works. He knows that when we think of others instead of the win, when we show others kindness and grace, when we give others a chance, they can shine. They can grow. And that confidence will lead them to then encourage others. What a lesson I learned from that game today. I wish I could give a star for “Christ-likeness” to everyone in that gym for encouraging my son and for seeing him not as he is, but as he could be.
Encouragement is powerful. May each of us be someone who encourages others. Give someone a chance…try to see what could be…give others a chance to take the shot. When you do, everyone wins.
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13