“Whitney doesn’t want to do gymnastics anymore.”
My mouth dropped open in shock at my sister’s words as I stared at my phone.
She went on, “she said she doesn’t like it anymore. She just wants to be a kid and have a normal life.”
My sister and I lived similar lives as sports moms. Her son has been playing football and wrestling for as long as I could remember, and Whitney started gymnastics right before she turned two years old. Their family spent a good amount of time on the road going to practices, meets, and games, and had missed out on countless family vacations, birthdays, events, celebrations, and get-togethers, just like we had.
Now 12, Whitney was competing at USA Gymnastics Level 7 and was training for Level 8. She only had a few more levels to go before achieving the Elite status, which would include competing in national meets, some of which would be televised. We anticipated watching her in the Olympics one day.
After I hung up with my sister, a made-for-TV movie called The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar came to mind. I remember watching it with the girls earlier in the year before Kennedi was injured in 2018. What struck a chord with me after watching it was how much Simone gave up to become the amazing gymnast that she is today. I don’t dare speak for her, but my impression after watching the movie was that the normalcy of her adolescent and teenage years was sacrificed so she could train and become the phenomenon that she is today.
As I thought about all the time and sacrifice it took to become the jaw-dropping athlete that Simone is today, my mind went to a book that a friend recommended to me years ago.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell asserted that it took 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill or become an elite athlete. After reading that, I took that notion and ran with it. I knew my daughters had the ability and potential to become elite athletes. I calculated how many hours they would need to train to meet the magic number of 10,000 hours. I concluded that we could never reach that, but I committed to doing whatever I could to maximize the hours that they did have available to train.
That meant hardly a break in between seasons; searching out available school track fields to train on when we were out of town. And sometimes getting up early during summer break to train before I had to go to work instead of allowing them to sleep in. All because I thought it was the best way to help them fulfill their potential.
As parents, many times we may see the potential in our children and will be driven to allow their talents to be maximized to the fullest, hoping for a standout scholar, athlete, artist, etc. When those dreams experience a detour or go unfulfilled from an injury, loss of desire, poor personal choices, or bad intentions from an outside party, that can leave us questioning everything.
This past Sunday, I watched Transformation Church, as a new series called The Paradox of Purpose kicked off. Charles Metcalf spoke about our potential in relation to God’s purpose and calling for our lives. And my mind immediately went to my children. I thought that all this time I had been basing my prayers on their purpose when in reality I was praying for (what I thought was) their potential to be fulfilled. I realized I had been offering a consolation prayer of surrender to God’s purpose only when He didn’t answer my original prayers the way I wanted Him to.
I didn’t get what I prayed for? Ok God, if I can’t have what I want, then may Your will be done. When in reality, my prayer should have always been for God’s will to be the priority over my dreams and desires for my daughters.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around this paradigm shift in my thinking. I have been looking at my notes every day, trying to release all the ambitions I had placed on my daughters, based on their potential, so that I could fully embrace the fact that God has them on a path for His purpose.
The path to purpose starts with the unique talents, gifts, abilities, and strengths that God has given us in different areas. But how do we know what we are supposed to do with them? How do we manage the potential that comes from the way we were created?
But God, I find myself asking, why would you give them all this potential, along with these talents if they weren’t going to use it?
This is where our relationship with God comes in. He knows exactly why He created us, including our children. And as we seek to be in a relationship with Him, not for what He can do for us, but just getting to know Him for who He is, it is then when He reveals more about Himself, and about those good words that He has planned for us to do, which is our purpose.
While I wait for God to answer my questions about purpose, I’ll continue to walk on this journey, which sometimes feels precarious due to not knowing what each day holds. But I must be strong and confident enough to trust God with the unknown.
Can I be honest? I don’t like not knowing.
But when I pray, “Your kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”, I want to really mean it. And this is where it starts for me.
Yes, even when it comes to my dreams for my children. If they are overridden by God’s will, then so be it.
And to my sister Terri, I hope these words are an encouragement as you process this sudden change in your life. Continue to seek God’s purpose for Whitney’s life, and I know she will be just fine.
Are you struggling with the way your life, or your child(ren)’s lives are going? Are you dealing with difficult times, or does your life appear unrecognizable?
Take a moment to release your hopes, dreams, ambitions, and even unfulfilled potential to the Lord, and accept His purpose for your life.
PRAY WITH ME
I thank you for the potential you’ve given me and my children. And right now, I release that potential back to you, trading it for the purpose that you have planned for us. Please show me your plan for my life. Help me to look to you, and not my own desires and dreams. May Your will be done in our lives.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Share this story with someone in your life to encourage them!