My oldest daughter wrapped up her basketball career with a gut-wrenching last minute loss in the high school state semifinals this past weekend. We knew this day was coming, we’d even talked about it openly, but for some reason no amount of mental preparation was ample enough. I’ve had to (not-so-subtly) excuse myself from more than one room the last few days, not quite sure where all the different layers of emotion were coming from.
When we walked into the first meeting before freshman tryouts four years ago, we just hoped Emma could somehow make the team. We weren’t AAU parents. She never played on travel teams or spent time in the offseason at skills camps or with special trainers. We weren’t looking for college scholarships, we just wanted our shy kid to find a place to fit in, to make some friends, and enjoy her high school years.
As I look back, I think that accidental perspective is actually what made the experience so rich. Unlike other areas of our lives, we didn’t see our family as being owed anything. Every moment, from her first cleanup minutes off the bench as a freshman member of the JV squad, to watching her take the court as a varsity starter in the State finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse – none of it was expected. All of it was a gift. A glorious surprise we never saw coming.
I believe one of the key reasons Emma’s basketball career was so deeply fulfilling is because we experienced it with such unforeseen thankfulness.
Entitlement shrinks my world. It makes me selfish and grouchy when my expectations aren’t fulfilled. It creates a barrier between me and others.
Thankfulness opens the floodgates! It deepens my relationships and fills my heart with joy, even when things aren’t unfolding the way I planned.
What if I approached more things in life this way?
Grateful for everything.
I want to experience more seasons of life that are so rich and full that I can’t help but weep when they’re over. What if thankfulness is the secret sauce that just might make that possible?
A few months ago I typed the following words into my MacBook’s screen saver:
“Be thankful today, even for the littlest of things.”
I want to do better. I don’t want to take anything for granted. What my daughter has experienced, the forever friendships she’s made, the incredible young woman she’s become – all of it has been such an unexpected gift.
Thank you Covenant Christian. Thank you Coach Smith and Angie, Coaches Howell, Fish, and O. Thank you to all the parents who have become dear friends, and are still willing to sit next to me in the stands even when I’m yelling irrationally at the referees. Thank you to all the beautiful girls who have loved my daughter so well and given us so much joy.
We’re thankful for it all. Every. Single. Bit. This isn’t the end, it’s a new beginning. Let’s embrace it all with thankfulness. It’s not just the best way to play basketball, it’s the richest way to live.