My wife and I drove to visit our daughter who’s a junior in college. She is a remarkable young lady – as most fathers would attest of their own daughters. But it’s hard to imagine that there is a father in this world who is more proud of his daughter right now.
We are a family that thoroughly enjoys sports. From participating in family fantasy football leagues to attending various athletic events, our family enjoys the opportunities that sporting events offer to share memories and have a great time. I would not call it a passion, but a simple pleasure. There was a time in my life when sports were more than a passion, it was my savior.
Growing up in a difficult home life, I was physically blessed with a body that allowed me to perform well in sports. In high school, I was able to be a star athlete. I don’t mean to come across as bragging, but it’s important to know because I truly believe that being a star athlete saved my life. Sports gave my life meaning, attention and approval that I desperately sought. I easily could have been led down a life of making extremely poor decisions which included drugs, alcohol or even ending life itself. Sports was that critical bridge that led me to making good life decisions and ultimately to Christ.
Sometimes, sports can serve as that critical bridge for many. Yet, if a person allows the passion to be so consuming that you miss the lessons and opportunities it can provide, it can become a substitute savior from life itself. An addicting drug, if you will, to forget and avoid the struggles and worries of life or to re-live old glories.
My daughter is an excellent athlete and earned a scholarship to play soccer in college. Like an artist, she paints a portrait of herself on the playing field for all to observe and to appreciate. But, playing a sport doesn’t define who she is. For this, I’m truly thankful. Don’t get me wrong, she loves to play soccer. However, she plays with the attention and the appreciation for what it is – an expression of her body and the gifts she possesses; the opportunities for playing with a team full of talented and committed ladies; and those rare experiences of learning those unique lessons that only sports provides that help build character, discipline and perseverance.
Right now, she is in the middle of one of those extremely tough lessons right now.
It’s a type of lesson that parents cringe, wishing they could possible spare a child from hurt and disappointment, hoping that there is some way they can help make it better. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want it any other way. She is going to grow from this experience from a lesson that parent couldn’t provide. She is going to come out of this an even better person. The Lord is allowing sports to give her this unique opportunity to mold her character, strengthen her will, and perhaps re-define who she is and what she desires to become. Yes, this is tough. But, she’s an amazing person who’s going to grow to an even more amazing young lady. For that, I am sure, because sports are not her savior.
I’m a father who couldn’t be more proud or thankful to have a daughter like her.