“Lord, I pray the week goes fast because I can’t wait to play in my tournament next weekend.”
That was my thirteen-year-old’s entire prayer 5 days before we were to leave.
Wishing days away to take the court with her Kairos team.
Grace loves volleyball maybe more than I’ve ever loved anything in my whole life. She practices before school and after school and uses a glow-in-the-dark ball when she should be getting ready for bed. When the actual SoDak temperature is negative eight, she is outside serving and hitting off the roof for speedy defensive play. I want to put a sign in our yard that says, “Her idea not ours. We’re inside drinking hot chocolate like sane human beings.”
She loves the game.
And not only is she a student of its mechanics, but she actively scouts tournament opponents and researches host sites. She looks up opposing club information, how they’ve performed so far this year, and, occasionally, can tell you how much the facility they are playing in costs. Her goal is to enter each tournament prepared and leave having done her best.
Needless to say, when the tournament finally arrived and her team advanced to the gold bracket, she was thrilled.
Except minutes into day two, she dove – rolling her ankle – and came up unable to bear weight. I watched as the athlete in her tried to will away the pain, pressing her foot down and losing her balance forward. She hopped off to the bench with tears streaming down her face, unleashing my own.
I could handle an injury. Watching her be sidelined in a game I knew she so desperately wanted to be part of? Not so much.
“What’s the word on Grace?,” her teammate Carlie asked.
“She’s done for the day. We don’t know what her injury is so Coach (rightly) feels it’s the only safe choice.”
“I’ll go be her crutch,” her friend replied, without missing a beat.
And I had to brush silent tears away from my cheeks once more, as I saw the game become beautiful. Her coach had one arm and Carlie took the other around her shoulder and together they supported her to the next location their team needed to be. Grace cheered on her people and during timeouts Coach pulled the team in tight near Grace so that she could be part of the plan and hold her hand in the huddle.
There are many injured people around us. And, most of the time they won’t present obviously unable to walk, though it may be physical. But, often it takes a little more to see. The social struggle to fit in. The emotional pain of not being seen. Feeling like not enough. The heartache of a diagnosis. The unpredictability of shifting circumstances. Diminished hope. Living a life different than one imagined.
But if we took a moment to say, “I’ll be your crutch,” how different might the world look?
And, when we’re the one hurt, how might we better heal if we allow others to huddle in close and say, “Team.”
We were created in community – a gift so that when the weight of the world is too much for any person to bear we’re reminded that we don’t go it alone.
Thank you, Carlie.
Thank you, Coach.
Today I’m living with eyes open, and I encourage you to do the same. May we never to be too resolute to give or accept love. The world is better when we’re in it together.