As far as bleacher parents go, Ryan and I are way chill.
We are never all let’s get our undies in a bundle because Blue called a strike on our 8-year old, or, hey, let’s throw a tantrum by the dugout because “we’re” losing. What. Ever. The players are kids, baseball is a game, and we are adults who already reveled in our own competitive sports glory in the 90s. Instead, we’re like settle down, Beavis, because last time we checked, youth baseball games were not about us. Better to save the blood pressure spikes for the grown-up events where our names are listed in the proverbial batting order, no?
So Ryan and I typically don’t let much of anything bother us when we’re watching our kids play sports, but there was this one time recently when some icky, unfair crapola raineth down on one of our sons during an intense game, and we were all kinds of bothered by it. It was so upsetting that Ryan had to excuse himself to go for a walk and, let me tell you, this mama wanted to throw me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.
The thing about it, though, was that my visceral desire to chuck something had everything to do with me wanting to get my son’s attention and nothing to do with me wanting to see the offending parties become acquainted with their first aid kit.
Why? As the game went on and I wasn’t allowed to talk to our son (usually a great rule), I became desperate—like, so desperate—for him to know that we saw him, that we were proud of him, that we could see his effort, and that what we—and what God—knew about him in those moments was far more important than what anyone else thought about him or his performance. I wanted him to know that. I needed him to know that. His heart depended on it. I was desperate to make eye contact with him, but he never looked in my direction and I swear to you that was what really sent my blood pressure a soarin’ …not all the poo rain.
When I couldn’t take it any more and I felt an implosion coming on, I told Ryan to break the stay-away-from-the-dugout rule to go say something encouraging our deflated guy. Ryan got as close as he could to him, made eye contact, gave him a thumbs up and said firmly, “I see you…I see you.”
I let out a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding, and then I heard this:
“Kristen, this is how I feel about you. I am desperate for you to know that I see you, that I am proud of you, that what I think about you matters most, that your mistakes are no match for my mercy and that you are loved, forgiven, and free. But most of the time you are looking the other way, reading all kinds mixed signals. Don’t look over there. Look at me. I see you. I see you.”
As it turned out, we all lived through the confusion and frustration of that game just fine and, not long after, we were able to calmly address our concerns with our son and others in a way that made the situation better, not worse. But you don’t care about any of that and you shouldn’t.
What I hope you care about is this:
We have GOT to start maintaining better eye contact with our Dad, you guys. Our hearts depend on it.
A gazillion times more than I wanted my son to know the truth about himself on the field that day, God wants us to know the truth about ourselves as we live out our days this side of Heaven. There is no reason for us to flounder around confused and deflated when the God of the Universe sees us and is for us. Our numbers aren’t just screen printed on his sweatshirt like Landon and Evan’s are on mine. No, God is in the bleachers with our names cut into his hands (Isaiah 49:16), and if we’d just turn around and look at him, we’d know without question that we are secure even when our circumstances are shaky or when the sky is raining…
…well, you know.
A few of my current favorite resources for maintaining eye contact with Dad:
Ruthless: Knowing the God Who Fights For You by Bo Stern
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
The Quiet Place by Nancy Lee DeMoss