There once was a boy who, much to his parents' disappointment, had no love of sports. He tried playing little league but he never really felt like part of the team. It was fun to run around from base to base and hit the ball off the tee, but waiting in the dugout to do those things was so boring. Even more boring was waiting in the outfield because you weren't even allowed to sit down. He tried playing soccer and he liked that okay, but he wasn't very good so he always got stuck in the positions where the ball was almost certain not to come to him. He was much more comfortable at home, playing his video games and watching online videos about how to get better at playing those games. His parents finally gave up on the boy ever being an athlete, but they were ok with it since he was so scholastically intelligent, and who knew what doors of success that would eventually open up for him in the future. But then one day, he picked up a basketball. And on that day, a true passion was born. A fire was ignited within the boy to become a basketball player.
When his parents discovered the boy's plans, they were worried. They had seen him struggle with the other sports and didn't want him to endure another disappointment. They knew he was not athletically gifted and couldn't bear for him to be told that he wasn't good enough. So they agreed to let him play on a Christian basketball league, where they prayed before games and which was much less competitive than some of the other leagues. His first season was a wild success. He was blessed with a coach who loved the game and loved teaching it, and the boy began to learn the fundamentals of ball handling and defense. The last game of the season was won with the boy making a defensive stop that propelled the team to victory and preserved their undefeated status. The boy was so proud of himself. He was sure he was ready for the more competitive teams and decided to tryout for the 6th grade middle school team.
The next level of competition proved to be an eye opening experience for the boy. These coaches expected ALOT. It was quickly painfully obvious that the boy had neither the skills or the experience to play for the 6th grade team. He was cut in the first round of tryouts. The boy was upset, but not surprised. It was obvious he had work to do and he was ready to take it on. His parents hired a private coach for him to work on fundamentals, strength training, and ball handling skills. He continued to play basketball at school during morning intramurals, and he joined the rec league at the community center in order to get the chance to play and practice in real game time settings. 7th grade tryouts came around the following year, and the boy had improved tremendously, though not enough. Again, he was cut in the first round of tryouts. Now this was too much for him to take. He didn't get over that rejection for quite some time and had pretty much given up on being able to play basketball for anything but fun.
The boy continued to train because he loved the game and he wanted to be better and stronger, but he let go of the idea that he would play for the 8th grade team. The kids were just too big and strong and he wasn't. But as the time for tryouts neared, the boy knew he still had it in his heart to give it one more try. If he could make this team, even if he didn't play very much, he would have a much better chance of making the high school team. And that is exactly what happened. At tryouts, first cuts came and went and so did second cuts. He was still in the running. As the roster was posted, he knew that no matter what he had spent the last two years working as hard as he could toward his goal. He walked closer to the sign hanging on the wall and had to stare a little longer to be certain of what he saw. His name was on that paper. He had made the team!
The victory was cut short by a season of sitting the bench and feeling like his teammates didn't think he was good enough to be there. Everyone was nice enough, but no one expected him to be a key player on the team. And he wasn't. Not the whole year. But he continued to train, continued to play, continued to be disciplined in the time and effort it would take to reach the next level and when Freshman tryouts came, he made that team, too. And that year was better than the year before. He began to get playing time, began to be acknowledged for how well conditioned he was, how well he handled the ball, and for his basketball IQ. And while all of that was great, he knew his focus must be on his next goal- to make the JV team. And so he continued, consistently, to run, train, workout, shoot, play, repeat. For that is what success requires- consistency.
My son is that boy and I'm elated to say that he also saw his name posted on the wall as a member of the JV team. And while I am so proud of him, I am most proud of all that he agreed to endure to get his name there. Years of struggle, rejection, not feeling good enough, big enough, strong enough. But he had a vision. He had a dream. And he did the work that it would take to succeed. And he still has more work to do because this JV season is all about putting in the work to make the Varsity team next year. And then there will be another goal and another one and another one and they will all require the same consistency and perseverance. I share this story because it is the same with the way we care for ourselves. We never arrive. A successful life is made up of daily, consistent practices that ultimately lead to a life well-lived. Sure there will be struggles, failures, and setbacks along the way, but consistently practicing The Four Seeds of Self-Care will always help us navigate those challenges in the healthiest way possible, until one day we realize that instead of frequently experiencing debilitating obstacles, we have learned, through consistency and perseverance, to hurdle right over them with ease.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel