Jaana started playing soccer recently, and like most 5 year-old sports teams, the action on the field is more entertaining than exciting. My daughter, God bless her, takes a little too much after her mom and doesn’t have the competitive drive that her dad has. So while she’s practicing or playing, she’s doing it “Jaana-style” — skipping, hopping, picking flowers and such.
The last few practices, she asked to play goalie. We thought maybe this would be her niche in the game — protecting the net. However, she hasn’t quite grasped the concept. One day she stood with her back to the field, watching another team practice. Another time she was crouched down picking at flowers, oblivious to the scrimmage. Once she just sat down completely, legs crossed, head in hands. Most recently, she let two goals go by and just stood there watching them score, not even moving a single bit.
Greg decided to sit her down and have a talk with her about it. He is Mr. Team Sports, and wanted to impart the importance of watching the game, focusing on the team and paying attention. As he’s explaining all this to her, her little chin starts to quiver, her face turns red and her eyes well up with tears. Greg asks her why she’s crying. She doesn’t respond, but is trying to not cry. Greg pauses for a minute, then says, “Baby, do you know what you’re supposed to do as a goalie?” In a wobbly voice, she says “I’ve never played soccer before.” Greg and I look at each other heart-broken. He says, “Honey, you didn’t know what to do? I can show you. I’m your Daddy. That’s what I’m supposed to do.” He grabs her and holds her to his chest and she just sobs, letting the dam break.
I sat there watching this, my hands over my mouth and tears streaming down my face. And I realized two very important realities. The first is that my poor little girl has no idea what she’s supposed to do. None at all. It’s hard at this age to grasp the specifics of a sport, and she just trots along, happy-go-lucky, having fun, covering the fact she’s not sure about any of it.
The second is that I so completely saw myself in her. My whole life I’ve been in countless situations where I had no idea what to do. I’ve felt inexperienced, out of my league, out of my comfort zone — and clueless as to how to handle it. And I just put on a smiling face, trying desperately to figure it out as I go along.
The truth of the matter is that just like Greg, God is sitting on the couch with me. He’s waiting for me to tell him I need help. All I need to do is curl up in his lap, put my head on his chest and cry, “I’ve never done this before. This situation is too hard. I’m too scared. It’s too much. I haven’t been this way before.” And it’s his job — rather, his pleasure — to put his arm around me and comfort me, telling me, “Shhh…it’s okay. I’m your Daddy. I’m supposed to show you. You don’t have to figure this out alone. That’s what I’m here for.”
The next night, Greg took Jaana outside and taught her skills for the game. He taught her how to protect the goal. He taught her how to steal the ball. He taught her how to kick harder and faster. And while they practiced, she was still having fun, laughing and doing it “Jaana-style,” but she was effective. And by the time they were done, her confidence was through the roof. Because Daddy showed her what to do.
I’m so blessed to have a husband who takes his job as a dad so seriously, and with so much compassion and grace. And I’m so blessed to have my heavenly Daddy. Who can alert me when I’m not paying attention. Who will protect me when I have my back turned to the game. Who will give me the skills I need when I’m feeling lost and drowning. And most importantly, who will comfort me when in times of need.