As much as I've loved the court time with my volleyball girls in the past months and weeks, I must say that it hasn't been easy. To start with, it’s taken a lot of time and energy that is usually used to rest or invest in relationships with others.
I’ve also been challenged because when it comes to coaching, I feel a little like a scooter on the freeway. I realized at the beginning of the season that this would not be an experience that I felt incredibly qualified for. Minnesota volleyball is a lot different than in when I played ball in Kansas. I saw right away that this would be a humbling experience where I would have work hard to be mediocre. I would have to go in confident and collected even when I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. This is my regular coaching experience. It has been a great one--humbling, uncomfortable, and breaking of my perfectionism. God has been working on me.
I heard someone at a conference say recently, “Anything worth doing is worth being bad at for a while.” That is good encouragement for me. I’m not going to be perfect at anything. Even to be good at something takes time and dedication. To be good at something takes time, effort, and heart. That means there will be a lot of work put in that isn’t worthy of hanging on the refrigerator.
I love that imagery. I had a professor say to me the other day, “Part of our job is teaching students that everything they do isn’t gonna get hung up on the refrigerator.” I laughed. He’s so right. We are a culture that needs to be commended. We are raising generations that have got trophies for being on the team. Sometimes we have to put in the hard work that nobody sees to reach the bigger goal. As I thought about what the professor had said, I realized, I need to remember that I’m not going to get every project on the refrigerator. Sometimes I’m going to be mediocre and nobody is going to notice. Sometimes I’m just going to be doing the everyday things. I don’t need a high five for that.
Encouragement is a great and important thing. When it becomes what we run on, then we have an issue. We find our identity in our successes, in our victories, in the stars our picture has as it hangs on the fridge. We must be careful. We must be careful not to wear “busy” on our sleeve as something others should honor, but repenting that it’s taken all of who we are. To not sacrifice our relationships with family and friends for another activity or accolade.
At the end of a long week, too, realizing that it’s not really that big of a deal if I’m mediocre at most things. If that’s my best, healthy effort, then that’s what it is. The thing that ultimately matters is relationship. As I’m doing my best, am I being the best person I can be on the way? Am I taking time to acknowledge the best in others—to give them my best attention, my best ears, my best heart? Those are things that matter more than an award, wins on a page, or names on a plaque. To be our best at the relationships in our lives. Not to fill up our story with lots of things that we’ll be mediocre at, just for a chance to get more attention and gold stars. Not to be the person with the most relationships or the relational guru, but to be loving and learn how to be loved. It’s worth doing well, so that means you’re probably going to be bad at it sometimes. It’s probably not going to earn you a gold star or your picture on the fridge, but it’s so much more than that. It’s grounding. It’s lovely and whole. It’s messy and fun. It’s hard and beautiful. It’s scary and safety. We are not fully human without it. Relationship is our essence. To be satisfied with the ordinary, which is quite extraordinary. To make time for adventure that may very well fail in measurement, but be a win in experience and relationship. To see and embrace just how different God’s economy is from the world’s—that we aren’t looking for notoriety, but taking note of ways to give ourselves to others. I’m trying to learn this as I live in the meantime. To start embracing relationship and making it a priority right now, even though it’s not a romantic relationship or a family that I’m making time for. Married or otherwise, this is what we were made for—relationship. God knew this. He calls us His and we make the refrigerator, not because of something we did that was worthy, but He calls us worthy because we're His.
Let us love one another and call each other important. It’s the good stuff in life—better than any space we could occupy on the refrigerator.