I have always been a goal setter. It motivates me to work harder and press in when things are not going just the way I planned. Combining that with my faith in the will of God is the only thing that helps me to stay functional and sane. As an adult, I have life experience to depend on during those times when my goal is just out of reach and that aids me in re-evaluating and setting revised goals. But as a parent, teaching children the value and benefit of goal setting, I was faced with a tremendous challenge this past weekend.
As I mentioned in my prior post, my three older children are competitive swimmers. This past weekend, my daughter Montana and my oldest son Wyatt, participated in their end of the season finals. Swimmers compete in finals with the ultimate goal of reaching their best time for the season. In addition, swimmers have the opportunity to qualify for the state meet. State qualifying times are challenging and require committment. My son Wyatt, set goals to establish himself well in his new age group(11-12) so as to position himself to potentially qualify for the summer state meet. He accomplished his goal. My daughter Montana, has been competing all season with the goal of qualifying as an individual in one event for the state meet. Going into the meet on Saturday, Montana was .78 hundredths of a second from a qualifying time in her 100 backstroke.
On Saturday afternoon, on a very quiet drive home, after two attempts, the result was 0-2. Montana was devastated and so was I. Now please understand, I was not disappointed in her, but for her. I knew how much this goal ment to her, and there was nothing I could do. She was inconsolable and no level of encouragement was affective. We were so proud of her for her committment and effort and we had the benefit of life experience that tells us…..next time, it’s not the end of the world, and so on.
My daughter swam her first highschool season this year with great success and her club season up to this point was considered to be as accomplished. She had met all of her intermediate goals throughout the entire season, and in most cases had exceeded her goal. But for Montana, at this moment in time, none of that mattered. And in all my training and life experience, I was at a complete loss. Worse yet, we still had an entire day of swimming to get through on Sunday.
With a deeply troubled spirit, I lay my head down on Saturday night and prayed earnestly for my daughter. God, give me wisdom in this situation to be what she needs when she needs it. And when I fall short, may you hold her in your holy hand and let her know that your love is all she needs.
Another early morning ensued on Sunday, and due to scheduling issues just Montana, Wyatt and I went to the meet on that morning. My “Man Of The North” and my other two boys stayed home to honor another committment. On our way to the pool that morning, we began an impromptu conversation about the gifts we receive from God both physical and spiritual and how they drive the heart of who we are. Walking in boldness and strength while working in our gifts is what allows us to present our very best in life. When we have a relationship with Christ, we operate in His power and grace not our own. All of the sudden, the three of us had an aha moment. And I watched the light go on in Montana. We arrived at the swim meet refreshed and ready to leave Saturday behind and give our very best to the day ahead.
Wyatt continued to cut time in every race and he positioned himself for future success. And Montana……Well, now for the rest of the story. Scheduled to swim four races Sunday, she swam best times all morning including an unbelievable cut time in her 100 freestyle that witnessed to me that she was fully operational in her gift. Just after that race she came to me in the stands, looked across the bleacher seat and said, “Mamma, I need to talk to you right now.” She proceeded to explain that her coach, upon witnessing her last race, would like to scratch her final scheduled race and time trial her in the 100 backstroke one more time, if I approve.
The moment of truth. What do I say. I don’t want her to be sad one more minute and this definitely has the potential to end in sadness. And then I knew. It wasn’t my decision. “What do you want to do?” I said. “I want to do it,” she said. “Are you sure?” I said. “Yes, I want to do it.” “Okay,” I said, “Then I think you should.” Between that conversation and the time of the race (about 2 1/2 hours) I did not speak to Montana again.
She jumped in the water for the start and as she took her mark, I asked the Lord that no matter what the clock said at the conclusion, Montana would know that she had given her very best. As I have reflected upon this race the last couple of days, I have come to appreciate the opportunity God gifted me with that day to witness my child accomplishing her goal. With strength, boldness and grace Montana was a cut above.