I have had a pretty crummy day. Nothing really bad happened. But I had to tell my little warrior that he didn't achieve his Black Belt today. It has weighed heavily on me all day, kinda overshadowing what was otherwise a pretty decent day. As the day winds to an end, I know that I will always remember walking into the room where Jeremiah was getting his gear together and breaking it to him that he didn't make it. It was SO STINKING HARD to look him in the eye and tell him the news.
However, in a society where kids are told they never fail, where child athletes are told "everyone wins," a valuable lesson was learned today; for Jeremiah and myself.
First, Jeremiah told me through the tears that he knew he hadn't performed at an expert level. He knew he hadn't done well, but he had hoped it was enough. We were able to have a REALLY good talk about what it means to be a Black Belt, and how it's so much more than just knowing the material. There is a proficiency level that accompanies the knowledge. The Black Belt test isn't like other belt tests. Other belt tests tend to be more "pass/fail" tests. But the Black Belt test is more of an assessment of the students abilities to determine if they are an expert in their art. For instance, a student seeking to advance from orange belt to yellow belt needs to show a proficiency commensurate with that belt, seeking to show their progression. The Black Belt, however, must demonstrate that he/she has mastered all of the materials for all of the belts and is able to teach, model, and instruct. Where as the potential orange belt may progress with a score of 70%, the student seeking his/her Black Belt must perform around 90%. In our conversations today, Jeremiah conveyed he felt like he'd failed. As we talked it through, however, he discovered that he passed the test, just not at the level he needed to. While heart broken about it, it served to remind him of his responsibility to the Belt and to motivate him to be that much better when he tests again in a month.
Second, I learned that sometimes heartbreak moves us to excellence. As much as I hated to tell him that he hadn't gotten his Belt, and as deeply hurt as he was, I was able to walk through it with him and share a life moment with my son. Life is going to be full of these moments. As a dad, I HATE when my kids are hurting, and do everything I can to protect them from hurt. But not only is that impossible, but it's not healthy for my children. Hard times will come. There will be greater disappointments in life than not receiving his Black Belt. The greater lesson is learning how to handle set backs. How I coach him through disappointment will be a lesson he will carry into life. If I divert the disappointment, what does he gain? At best, he gains a belt he didn't earn. At worst, he learns that he doesn't have to face failure. The reality check for me today was to hurt with him, hurt for him, and understand that this makes him not just a better Martial Artist, but a better person.
Third, and you knew it was coming if you know me, there is a spiritual application. "The Lord is near the broken-hearted." Psalm 34:18 Perhaps we spend too much time trying to be comfortable and successful and miss a major way that God makes His presence known to us. As a parent, do I rob my children of an opportunity to deepen their faith by shielding them too much? Even as I write this, the Daddy in me is screaming, "How could I ever let my kids suffer? There's no such thing as protecting them too much! They are MY kids!" But I don't think that's it. I think that the place I landed today is that failure is a part of life and failure is a means of deepening our faith. Today I was able to hold my little boy, encourage and connect with him in a meaningful way, and point him to never giving up. And maybe, just maybe, he will find the same comfort and counsel in God's arms when the failure is much greater.
Just in case you read this, Buddy, I love you and am proud of you. I know that you will take today and build from it. Keep your chin up, your eyes bright, and get done what needs to get done. And, most of all, remember that God is nearer to you than you can know.
And I also need to say "Thank You" to Master Jason for shooting straight with Jeremiah. It would have been easy to say, "Close Enough." But that wouldn't have been right nor what's best for Jeremiah. I know it was tough, but you did the right thing, and I appreciate that. I whole heartedly believe that Jeremiah will more deeply appreciate his ability when he reaches his next goal because of today.
It's almost here! In October, my entire family, along with some friends who are as close as family, will be heading back to our city in East Asia. I am excited about my family going with me. It will be all three of them's first time out of the country. And what a GREAT opportunity for them to be a part of changing the world. I've asked them to tell me why they want to go, and here's their responses:
Jeremiah (my 9 year old son): "I want to go because I want to share Jesus with some people. I want to see what it's like there and see what people do. I hope we will reach lots of people and that they will start spreading [The Gospel] with their friends."
Cayla (my 7 year old daughter): "All my life I've known Jesus wanted me to go. I was 5 years old, I think, when I felt like God told me to go there. I've been waiting to go ever since."
Caryn: "I want to go with y'all for the same reasons you want to go. I want to share the Hope with others that they otherwise wouldn't know about."
Have I told you her story? When she was 5 years old, while riding her tricycle in the driveway, God called her to Asia. She came to me sobbing, unable to breath, as if something horrible had happened. After I got her calmed down, she said to me, "I'm gonna miss you and mommy!" and started crying again. When she finally calmed down, she told me she was going to miss us when she is in C**** telling people about Jesus! Not only was it the moment of her calling, but God used it to call me, too. He used her to set things in motion in my life going to East Asia to prepare the way for her to go. And now, 2 years later, she can barely contain herself that she gets to go AND she doesn't have to say goodbye to us to be able to go!
Here's where you come in: For our family to go will take around $8k. It's going to take even more than that in prayer support. If you'd be willing to help with prayer, finances, or however God leads you, would you drop me an e-mail at Jason@journeylubbock.org ? We have to get the ball rolling on Passports this week.
Thanks in advance for helping us follow Cayla's calling!
WOW! Really? May 28th was my last post here? What can I say? It's been a busy summer.
Let's start the conversation back up with something light-hearted, like this!
1. Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model: "I wan' all dem kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I wan' all the kids to copulate me.."
2. New Orleans Saint RB George Rogers when asked about the upcoming season: "I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first."
3. And, upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the Skin's say:"I'd run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl,"Matt Millen of the Raiders said: "To win,I'd run over Joe's Mom, too."
4. Torrin Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John Jenkins "He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings."
5. Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann: "Nobody in football should be called a genius like Norman Einstein."
6. Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh : "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes." (Now that is beautiful)
7. Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: "You guys line up alphabetically by height." And, "You guys pair up in groups of three, and then line up in a circle."
8. Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson going to prison: "Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton ."
9. Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: " That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes."
10. Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of heavyweight Andrew Golota: "He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning, regardless of what time it is."
11. Chuck Nevitt , North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be and aunt or an uncle (I wonder if his IQ ever hit room temperature in January)
12. Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player: "I told him, 'Son,what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?' He said, 'Coach, don't know and I don't care.'"
13. Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four F's and one D: "Son, looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject."
14. In the words of NC State great Charles Shackelford, I can go to my left or right, I am amphibious.
15. Amarillo High School and Oiler coach Bum Phillips when asked by Bob Costas why he takes his wife on all the road trips, Phillips responded: "Because she is too d*** ugly to kiss good-bye.