*Editor's note: This week's column is the second in a two-part series by community columnist Ken Ansell. The first column, "When your kids want to quit, be a parent," appeared in the Daily Light on Wednesday, July 26.
By the time my favorite barista (our youngest son, Jack) came along, I was through trying to force or even live my dreams through my kids' athletic careers.
Jack played football in junior high, too, but high school rolled around and it was clear he was a band nerd (but the coolest band nerd I’ve ever met and being a band nerd is a good thing, I just didn’t know it). Jack was twice an all-state-er at WHS. He led our worship at our church along with our would-be-adopted son, Reed. Reed too was an all-state-er. It’s kind of funny Jack was the kicker on the football team and Reed was the punter, no doubt these guys were “special teams.”
As we raise our kids not only do they grow up but we do too. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in 1st Corinthians 13:11. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
Eighteen years ago I prayed for Mr. Touchdown turned Presbyterian pastor to be blessed with those touchdowns, I wouldn’t do that now. I would not even pray for safety on the field (don’t hate me) because I’m not sure God owes us that when we strap on a helmet and put ourselves in a position of potentially being hurt in a violent game - does that make sense? I love football, please don’t misunderstand, I just think going before the throne of God is more serious than Friday night lights (I also believe there is a time and a place for everything, Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Here’s where I did see God in Mr. Touchdown’s football career. I saw God give that boy a platform. He loved Jesus a lot and that was on display while he had his on field success. I hope fellow students saw No. 13 and saw Jesus.
No doubt, God heard my prayers and said, “I don’t know about what you want but here’s what I can do, Kenny.” I’m glad God always does what is best versus give me what I want in my immaturity. Can I get an, “Amen!”
My biggest regret as a parent is while I tried to create self-confidence through sports, it seems like that premise is based on performance, no grace in the equation. In other words, if you do well, you can be the starting quarterback. If not, well, you understand.
Nothing wrong with that system, not everybody gets a trophy but if I had a do over I would work more on the spiritual side, encourage these boys to find their identity in Christ alone.
Believe me, sports are good, I could bleed green (Go Indians!, it’s hard not to pray for a win on Friday nights) but Jesus is better (no offense to my favorite coach, Coach Kitna). He told me to tell you that.