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How do you handle setbacks?

By: Catherine – Grit Club member

When my children graduated from high school, their grandparents gave them the book "Oh, The Places You’ll Go," by Dr. Seuss. It was the last book he ever wrote and might have been his best one ever. The book is full of how great you are and how you will be the “best of the best”.  About half way through the book, the tone changes to “Except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t. Bang ups and hang ups can happen to you”.  In thinking about this book it then begs the question, "how do we respond to setbacks?"

My 7-year-old grandson, Max, played on a basketball team for the first time this year. He played fantastic, and in his early games, he was the only one on his team that scored. He was all over the court, stealing the ball, scoring all the points, and he was a true standout among all of the other players. Yet when the other team scored or got the ball, he would have a bit of a meltdown. Tears flowed, and he was ready to come out of the game. His Dad (the coach of his team) would not allow him to come out nor did he stop play to soothe him. On the sidelines, his coach could be heard saying to Max “pass the ball, pass the ball” when there were other kids open. Many hilarious moments ensued as his teammates either ran from the ball, passed it to the opposing team, or stood there and froze. But Max never stopped passing the ball or helping his teammates, and eventually, the other kids scored some points! In watching my grandson through the entire basketball season, I thought about how many life lessons he learned and what I could learn from watching him and his coach.

* Give it to God

Just as Max’s coach was on the sidelines saying “pass the ball,” our Heavenly Father is also saying the same to us. When I give my insecurities, doubts, and fears to Him, he takes them and in return gives me the peace of knowing that whatever I am going through God is with me. What comfort and hope it gives us to know we are not alone in the game of life!

* Approach with Confidence

Max has great confidence in his basketball skills not only because his Dad is the coach, but also having an older brother who is also a great basketball player.  He also practices at home for many many hours. When he is on the court, he has a look in his eyes and handles the ball with the confidence of knowing how to play the game. Great people do not turn away from adversity, problems, or troubles in their life. They look for solutions. When I believe the things I tell myself when I am sad and lonely, it only drags me deeper down. I have to stop and look at the bigger picture of what I want to be and not where I am at that moment. What is your bigger picture? How do you approach with confidence?

* Coming out of the game is never an option

No matter how many times Max came to the sideline and asked his coach to take him out of the game, he always lovingly told him “you have this," patted him on the back and said, “now get back out there and give it your best."  Knowing that our heavenly Father is not only on the sideline with us, but also in the game with us and patting us on the back saying, “you got this, I am with you, give it your best.”  That comfort gives us the courage to stay in whatever our trials are at the time.

* Keep your eyes open to the possibilities

When I went to Max’s first basketball game, his team appeared to have never been on a basketball court. After the game, I jokingly told his coach (my son), "wow, it looks like you have a long season in front of you!"  My son responded, “well, it's a great opportunity to be able to teach these beginners how to play basketball and watch them grow this season.  I am excited to see them have breakthrough moments!" What an awesome perspective. The last game of the season, four different boys scored points and the excitement from the boys and the parents watching them brought tears to my eyes in how far they had all come. The possibilities are there if we will only look for them and expect them.

* Engage fully

If we engage fully, then we don’t leave it to chance. As Dr. Seuss so profoundly says, “And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winn-est winner of all”. So give it your all, keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the solution, but most importantly, keep your eyes on God. Even more than Max’s coach/Dad, He has us, He is coaching us, He is cheering us on.  If only we can engage Him fully!

By the end of my grandson’s basketball season, I hope the lessons he learned will stay with him for the rest of his life. The meltdowns stopped, winning wasn’t everything, and his team learned how to play basketball together and even won some games in the process. Dr. Seuss’ book ends with “Kid you’ll move mountains, Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting So…get on your way!”  What a lesson for all of us, no matter our age.

Check out Max in action here:

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