My daughter came home one day very excited – she had decided her new sport of choice would be Netball. OH dear!We had tried a few sports over the last couple of years but none had stuck. Several days of non-stop chatter about it (you know what I mean if you have an excited girl in your house) and after having the “Are you sure????” talk with her, I looked into it.
We thought we had missed the season because her revelation had come a little late, she was disappointed, and we put the thought aside. Then one night we received a call from a coach to say she had a spot for her this season. My daughter was beyond delighted. We went to her first training session and she loved it, but on the way home she felt a little discouraged. “Mum all the other girls have played in the Nipper’s program, and I haven’t. They all know what they are doing.” I felt for her. Her excitement had dissolved as she began to compare herself to others and intimidation crept in. “Well, we will just have to do a bit more practice, but you will catch up” I assured her.
The next week was the first game. She was as exhilarated as a poodle in a pet shop! She ran down to the court, dressed in her shiny new blue uniform, ready to take the other team on, only to discover that she had been sidelined for the first quarter.
It was not a pretty sight.
Weeks of anticipation had been dashed and she felt crushed. Although we assured her it would not be long and she would get her opportunity, she was crestfallen. She didn’t understand why everyone else could play and she had to wait. A ten-minute quarter to an expectant 8 year old felt like an eternity. She stood watching on with tears in her eyes.
I could identify with her.
It is tough when you so desperately want to be a part of something; you sense your calling, you have finally discovered what you were created for. Doors begin to open, your anticipation builds, and your dreams soar. You are dancing on top of the mountain; you are so close to realising your potential that you can breathe it in. And then… BAM! Something happens, often beyond your control, and before you can even say “Mary Poppins!”, you find yourself at the bottom of the valley, sidelined. Watching. Hurting. Not even sure what happened.
It feels unfair.
Disappointment and discouragement quickly become your new best friends, hastily shoving aside exhilaration and excitement. The self-justification quickly rises… “Why do they get a turn and I don’t?” “Why are they more favoured than me?” “Why would you make me wait, I am so ready for this!” Followed closely by the self-flagellation… “What did I do wrong?” “Am I not good enough?” “Why don’t you love me God like you do them?”… The internal storm rages. The battle begins for our dreams and expectations to be reinstated on our terms.
Then we realise.
There is nothing we can do except surrender to the moment. We cannot control the circumstances, we can try, but often that outcome is worse than if we had just waited. We don’t know why God sidelines us at times, maybe one day in the future we will, but in the midst of the waiting, we rarely understand. All we can do is trust. Trust that He is good. He has not bought us this far to sit us on the line, watching and waiting, for all eternity. That is not His plan, nor His heart. How can it be? Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. (Matthew 9:37) We will not wait forever.
My daughter, sitting on the sideline, quickly realised that she was still a part of a team. Her coach explained that she needed to shout encouragement from the sidelines to support those in the middle of the action. She could have chosen to sulk, allowing disappointment to become jealousy, and resentment to divide her from her teammates, but she chose goodness. She chose to participate even from the sidelines. She began to shout encouragement from where she was placed. She stopped comparing and started participating. Believing that she could still be involved no matter where she stood and that her turn would come.
The time is now.
The quarter ended and she was given her first on-court position. She had no idea what to do being a novice, but she gave it her all. She was pulled up time and time again for travelling (stepping) by the umpire, it was tough on her, but as she persevered she grew. In the last quarter she was the teams goal shooter. It was a big responsibility. The team depended on her. The score was 0 all. The ball had been passed back and forth between the teams. Many a good throw, by more experienced players, had fallen short. Then the ball was in her hands, she stood awkwardly on the side, it was not a clear shot, and their defence was fierce. She took aim and threw with all her might, we held our breath and watched in awe as the ball went through the goal. She did it! She had gone from being sidelined in tears to scoring the only goal of the game. From shame to fame in such a short time. Screams of joy erupted from her team, the parents and her coach. We celebrated our victory together, her goal was our goal. As she left the court, the waiting was long forgotten and a crown of triumph sat firmly upon her strawberry blonde curls. Her time had come as she had waited well, grown strong, and taken a shot.
Your time will come too.
Three tips for waiting well:
- Keep your love on. It can be difficult to wait when we desire to be walking in our purpose, especially if you are a driven or focused person. Don’t allow discouragement to take hold. Take your feelings about the situation to God and be honest with Him, He has big shoulders, He can handle your emotions. Allow the Holy Spirit to keep your heart soft during this challenging time.
- Keep participating. Sometimes we want to walk away, we often don’t understand why we get sidelined, but we need to be aware that we are part of a team – the body of Christ. We all have a role to play and at times one part is used and another is rested. We are all important. Understand that you are significant not because of what you do but because of whose you are. Don’t resent your leadership or God because your expectations are not being met in your time frame. Be faithful and faith-filled.
- Keep your perspective. We are eternal beings. What feels like forever to us, can quickly pass. We need to put our trust and hope in God and His continual love for us. He will not keep us on the sideline forever; He is a good God with a plan and purpose for us. He has not brought you this far to see you abandoned, no parent would do that to their child and neither would God do that to us. You can trust Him.