“I didn’t make the team,” my oldest sighed as he climbed into the car after a long day of school and hopeful basketball tryouts. “That’s okay.” I quickly replied, “You knew it would be competitive and this is your first try. Keep working at it and you can try again.” As positive as I was trying to be, reaching for the right words—any words—to ease the pain of loss and rejection, I also wanted to join him in the sorrow.
As the car ride home continued, the initial pain turned into the predictable “whys?”: “Why was I not chosen?” “Am I ever going to be good enough?” “Why were these other kids chosen and not me?” As the tears and lamentations flowed, I sat in silence, pondering how I could help this beautiful child best sort out these questions in due time. And as much as I wanted to take all the pain away or to be able to give all the right answers to these questions, I knew that there are just some things that can never be explained. Decisions are made, and we must accept them whether we agree with them or not, or whether we understand them or not—God’s will be done.
By the end of the car ride home, as the conversation warmed to sharing a renewed hope that all really would be okay, we began to laugh. At what? I do not know. Perhaps the foolishness of it all—especially when the heartbroken kid revealed to his even more heartbroken mom that, “I kind of didn’t like basketball, anyway. Football is what I really want to do.” We laughed again, finding our way through the intersection of tears and joy and the incredible feeling of gratitude for having survived yet another brief journey through the valley of disappointment.
After returning home and in the days that followed, the disappointment moved into joyful noise steered by continuing prayers, which were centered upon joyful hope for what is to come, and thanksgiving for what is and what will be:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:16-18).
Over the years, it is these moments that have become my favorite part of motherhood.
How wonderful it is that even during our journeys through the valleys of disappointment, God’s love for us bears a witness of hope and joy! It is this joyful hope that I am abundantly thankful for, and may this, too, be what always keeps my children comforted during the valleys of disappointment. To God, I give my thanks—for these moments and all that are yet to come.