Life isn’t fair.
Things don’t always go the way you want.
You can’t control everything.
In the grand scheme of life, this is just a momentary setback.
We’ve all heard statements like these. But try helping a disappointed 16 year old to understand and embrace these truths.
Life can be a cruel teacher at times.
In the last 3 months, we’ve experienced a number of unexpected life events.
In July, while our family was in Colorado, I received a call to tell me that my grandmother had passed away. She was 96 so it was not completely surprising. Still, you’re never quite prepared for the news that your last living grandparent has passed away.
In August, I received the news that my aunt, the last living sibling of my grandfather, had passed away.
And just two weeks ago, I received the news that my uncle, who was in his early 70’s had died unexpectedly.
The hardest issue though that we’ve been dealing with these last two months centers around our son Joshua, who has been dealing with a foot injury.
As a parent, it’s so hard to see your kids struggle and deal with setbacks and disappointment. Our tendency is to want to fix things and make things better and to shield them from hurt. But that’s not always possible and it’s not always advisable either.
In early August, Jacob and Joshua headed up to Mammoth with the rest of the varsity Cross Country team for a week of training at altitude. I (Dave) tagged along as a parent volunteer.
It was a great week of bonding and conditioning. Their team is really strong this year and is highly ranked, both in the county and even in the state. Expectations are high and the anticipation for this season has been palpable.
Towards the end of the week, Joshua started experiencing pain on the top his right foot. He was immediately shut down from running until we could get it checked out.
An MRI revealed a stress reaction in the 2nd long bone of his right foot.
A stress reaction is basically a pre-cursor to a stress fracture, and though it sounds less severe, the recovery time is the same.
For the last 7 weeks Joshua has been doing nothing but pool workouts, by himself, isolated from the rest of the team.
Twice, he’s tried to start running again, only to experience a setback with new pain in his foot.
There have been lots of tears and the frustration has come out in a variety of ways. Every night we pray. Joshua’s constant request has been, “Pray that my foot heals quickly.”
After spending many conversations trying to dispense my sage advice (see statements above), with varying degrees of receptivity, I decided that maybe I needed another approach.
After much reflection, I’ve learned that I need to be slower to react and give advice and I need to listen more.
I realize that I need to be more patient and not get so easily worked up when the response and heart attitude isn’t what I want.
I need to let Joshua process his own disappointment and loss while communicating that I’m for him and that we grieve with him.
Lastly, I want to help Joshua process his circumstances and learn what he can from this situation.
I’ve found that some of the coaching training we’ve been going through has been helpful to just ask questions. Questions such as:
What is the Lord teaching you? What are you learning about your identity and yourself through this? How can this situation help shape you as a person and leader? What can you learn about being a good team-mate through this?
Sixteen year olds are not always ready to learn these life lessons. But then again, us old guys aren’t always ready either!
Thanks for your ministry in our lives as we navigate the ups and downs of life and seek to learn our own life lessons.
Please pray for wisdom for us as we parent our twins and seek to guide them toward Jesus!
If you think about it, please pray for Joshua and his injury. Pray that his foot would heal and that he wouldn’t have any recurrence of the foot issue. Lastly, pray that he would consider the lessons the Lord is wanting to teach him through the situation he’s been in.