Over the past few years, my daughter has been attending the school where I teach. Consequently, we share a 45 minute commute (each way), know the same people, and interact several times a day.
This year, she decided to play lacrosse.
This was a scary thing for her. It's a new sport and she's playing goalie, which is super high pressure in lacrosse. Moreover, none of her closest friends are on the team. And while her teammates are nice girls, they are all friends and occupy a different social strata than she does. These kinds of things loom large in 7th grade.
Do you have any idea how high pressure this position is? Mix being President of the U.S. together with being a Relief Society President. Then throw in adolescent hormones.
So it was scary for her and, frankly, it was scary for me, too.
Hold that thought.
I teach choir and theatre at my school. This year, one group of girls in particular has been giddy and giggly and noisy. I tried to exercise patience, but they continued to chat during class. I was on the brink of disciplining them more harshly.
Hold that thought, too.
My daughter was so nervous before the first game that she was physically ill. For all the reasons above: a new thing, the pressure of her position, not wanting to let the team down, some social unease, and so on. These things loom large for a 7th grader.
During the first game, a ball got past her. I winced for her and said a prayer. Another got past. And another.
I could tell that she was starting to get worried and upset, and I was feeling that for her.
Right then, some of the girls on the team ran over to the goal and gave her high-fives and pats on the back. From my seat in the bleachers, I could hear them say, "Good try!" and "It's ok."
My heart swelled with gratitude and I felt a rush of warmth and appreciation for these girls.
The season is nearly over now. Once the nerves passed, my daughter became an excellent goalie. That's not bragging. It's objectively true since I hear parents on the other team commenting on her skills. Her teammates have been consistently kind and supportive during good times and bad.
The girls who have been so supportive of my daughter are the same chatty students I was getting ready to discipline.
The discipline never came. My view of them has changed. Their fairly minor infractions of class rules seems far less important to me. They were kind to my beloved child when she needed it most. This won't buy them endless indulgence for serious misbehavior, but their kindness has covered a multitude of small transgressions.
I think I've learned something about how our Father views our interactions with each other, and why He feels so strongly about how we treat each other. I also think I better understand this scripture:
"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7:2)
Their kindness and generosity to my daughter, when they could have acted otherwise, has inspired me to be generous to them in return. Their forbearance established the standard of measurement, and ultimately, it benefits them.
Braden is trying to recover his voice from cheering so loudly at lacrosse games. His novel, The Road Show will be released in June. He blogs at bradenbell.com
Photo credit: Braden Bell