In the life: my spot in the stands

“Sub her! She’s hit three balls out!" came the words of the parents of my daughter’s teammate toward my daughter. Did they really just say that? Six years of sharing bleachers with many of the same parents and I thought we were on the same “team”. I may be at a different season in my life as a mom of three former athletes, but I certainly can hear those cutting words like it was yesterday. Why do parents react and say the things they do during their son or daughter’s competition? 

At this stage in my life when I attend a middle or high school athletic event, I can simply enjoy the competition of these aspiring, young people full of hope doing the thing they love, sport! Unfortunately, a negative experience is becoming the norm. Recently I found myself at a game and witnessed several parents [of the same team] banning together in the bleachers (and not in a positive way) against another parent of a daughter. This was not a high-risk game, so I didn’t see it coming by any means. Surprisingly, what most people did not see were the two players near tears right before the start of the game as they knew it was their parents.

It is the behavior of adults that can potentially ruin the competition. It used to be adults would come to a game and only yell at the officials. Someone told me once, “They paid their $5, so that is their right." Now I ask the question, “Is it okay for a parent to yell at the officials, another parent, or worse yet, a teammate of their own child?”

Now to be honest, I had to reflect personally about situations in my past to evaluate my own behavior and thoughts. Admittedly as a former competitive athlete and coach, I have learned to channel this “edgy”-ness over the years. As a Christian, it can all get a bit challenging and potentially convicting. The identity a parent can hold onto may be based upon the skill or reputation of his/her daughter. Parents can live vicariously through their child as well. Perhaps as adults we should regularly ask ourselves if our thoughts and behaviors are reflective of the very principles and values we hold dear to our hearts.

My suggestion is to ask these questions: “How do I respond in the light of how others respond?” "How should I respond?" Because most moms that are reading this blog aren’t typically the offenders, or at least we don’t think so, we need to carefully look in the mirror. When dealing with “difficult” or “different” people surrounding me, I have been made aware of my own sin. It is as if many times I “clean-up” my tongue and what rolls off it, but have I really “cleaned-up” the root of the problem?

Here are two verses that helped and challenged me while my kids were competing: Ephesian 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." As my kids grew older, the other meaningful verse was Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” These verses help me check my thoughts and behaviors.

As a parent in the stands do we react out of selfish ambition, vain conceit, or pride? Are we trying, or maybe subconsciously trying to elevate ourselves to feel like we are not as bad as “some parents” only because we don’t speak it aloud but rather under our breath or even in our minds. We are all sinful people that need mercy and grace every single day.

If only a single prayer or verse could allow us to stay in perfect union with our heavenly Father, so that we stop sinning. However, this side of heaven it just isn’t possible, but what is possible is to speak and listen to the Holy Spirit as we look for wisdom and grace to live in this world interacting with all people God brings into our paths. 

It is not up to us to change people. Only Jesus can do that. As the saying goes, “Spread the Gospel. If necessary, use words." God calls us to love Him and love others.

The next time we find ourselves in a challenging situation sitting in bleachers, let’s react in a way that shows love and speaks truth into the lives around us. First pay close attention and look inward to correct thoughts and behaviors that are not pleasing to God, so that we experience a transformation to live on the earth the way Jesus did. To love mercy, to act justly, and to walk humbly with our God.






© 2019 Winning Women