“Go to the ball, Jenny!! To the ball! C’mon! Atta girl! Go get the ball!”
Typical Sunday: morning church, afternoon soccer game.
So at a little after 2 p.m., I am on the sidelines, “encouraging” the girls on my daughter’s team (I’m the assistant coach). Encouraging them rather loudly. To drive home the point of whatever it is I’m yelling about, I am jumping up and down. Quite animatedly.
After the game, I am walking with my daughter and we run into a friend from church. We had been playing against his daughter’s team, a fact which had escaped my attention during the game. “Hi, Jon,” I say.
“I thought you were going to jump onto the field there,” he smiles.
Suddenly, I am running the instant replay camera in my head of my sideline antics. I look down, catching sight of the WWJD bracelet around my wrist. Subtly, I pull my arm around my daughter’s shoulders, hiding the bracelet, smiling back to cover my absolute mortification.
“Yeah, I guess I get a little carried away,” I say, smiling ruefully.
“Um, a little,” he agrees, or maybe disagrees.
“Well, see ya,” I say, heading quickly for my mini-van.
Oh, I am so embarrassed. Why do I do what I don’t want to do? I am an obsessed soccer mom, and I hate it. Yeah, I have written a book on spiritual life, about “bringing peace home,” and I’m the loudest, most obnoxious mom on the sidelines at my kid’s soccer game. What’s wrong with this picture?
I am way too intense, and I feel like I can’t stop myself. It’s embarrassing.
What I want to do, I don’t do. What I don’t want to do, I do? Why?
The Apostle Paul asked the same question, and I am pretty sure he never had to coach kindergarten soccer. It would have been an even greater thorn in his flesh.
That was last year. I resolved, that day and many others, to just be quiet and calm at soccer games. With little or no success.
Today, on the sidelines again, I jumped up and down and screamed at my daughter, who was playing goalie. “Get back, get back, you’re too far out in front of the goal!”
She ignored me, even when the other team scooted past and scored because she wasn’t guarding the goal.
And before the game, I had been thinking about how I should just be quiet during the game, how I shouldn’t yell. But there I was, yelling again. With the best of intentions. I wanted to help these 6-year-olds do their best. (I am sick, aren’t I?) I mean, I’m the assistant coach. But I was using that as a “yelling license” and it was wrong. Something had to be done.
So tonight, I had two difficult conversations. I practiced the discipline of confession. First, to my daughter.
“Melanie, look at me, I have to tell you something.”
“I yelled too much today at the game.”
“You sure did!”
“And it was wrong. It didn’t help, did it?”