On the way home, 12 year old Matt looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to swim this summer! I’m done!”
“Matt, you’ve always loved swimming! You’ve broken several meet records. Your coach says you have the ability to make it to the top. Why would you give that up?”
“It’s boring. I just don’t want to do it anymore.”
“Matt, remember that swim meet where you were in the lead and then ended up in fourth place? Remember? What did the coach tell you?”
“I know, Mom. Go for the wall and don’t look side to side,” he mumbled.
“Is that what you are doing? Are you going for the wall or looking side to side here? The coach keeps telling you you’re one of the best. We all see it. Why would you give that up?
The volume of Matt’s voice filled the car.
“This isn’t about looking at anything but me, Mom! It’s about me! I spend every day after school in the water and then the weekends are taken up with swim meets. I’ve done it for five years! I want to do something different! You can’t make me keep doing this! I’m quitting!!”
As a parent, these moments make me cringe. I want success for my child.
I want him to find something where he can excel!
I like the camaraderie of the team.
I love to watch when my child is at the top!
My job is to make sure he stays in the game.
Or is it?
“Of course, you aren’t quitting the swim team, son! We’ve invested a lot of money into this and you have potential for a college scholarship! Your coach has told us we would be crazy to let you quit now! No way should you be thinking of quitting,” his dad lectured. “Here’s what we’ll do. I know that practice starts at 6:30 in the morning this summer. I’ll go with you. We’ll take a thermos of hot chocolate. We’ll do it together son.”
The chilly summer mornings continued. Day after day Matt and Dave got up early to go to practice. Each morning Matt came home looking miserable.
I shared what was going on with my friends from the team.
“Of course you can’t let him quit. He’s a critical member of the team.”
“I wish my son had Matt’s talent. You would be stupid to let him quit.”
And the comments were the same everywhere I turned.
As I spent time alone with God, I sensed Him saying. “What is the goal, Debbie? Is getting a free ride to college more important than your relationship with Matt? Why do you want him to continue to swim when he doesn’t want to? Is this about what others are telling you is best for Matt? Are your plans for him more important than mine?”
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men, know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It Is Christ whom you serve.
As I contemplated the questions that were spinning in my head, I felt a peace that it was time to let the swim team go. Guess I needed to talk to Dave. I needed his buy-in to the decision. “Lord, if this is the right decision, give me your words to change his mind.”
“Dave, I know that you would like Matt to continue swimming. So would I. But I think we should look at the big picture. You know how you always told Matt to go for the wall and not look side to side? What is the wall? Is it a scholarship or a good relationship with Matt that will last a lifetime?”
“I think I have been looking side to side too much,” I continued. I’ve been asking everyone else’s opinion rather than figuring out what the real wall is. Would you do me a favor and spend some time asking God what the goal is and then let’s talk?”
“Debbie, we don’t need to talk. I’ve been praying every morning while Matt is in the water. He’s lost his enthusiasm. I’m almost more worried for you that he needs to quit, than I am for him. These swim moms have become your friends. He’s ready to disengage. You’re the one who needs to be ready to grieve the loss. Are you ready?”
BOTTOM LINE: There are a lot of good activities to be involved in, but are they ones that will help us reach the ultimate goal of relationship that will last a lifetime. Go for the wall, His wall, and don’t look side to sideJ
DARE YOU to see if there are activities you tweens and teens are involved in that they are only pursuing because of your desires.
DOUBLE DARE you to cultivate a time to listen to your tweens and teens. Are you giving them choices to make their own decisions on whether they’re still passionate about their activities?
Learning that I sometimes need to give up my desires for my tweens and teens.
“Let go…and let God.”