Originally in Abilene Families
My kids have been blessed to take after their father in athletic abilities. Their mother may or may not have been injured recently by stepping on a pecan. Watching my children grow and develop their skills in sports thrills me. They have been given many opportunities by coaches to learn and play, but sometimes a team simply shapes up where an athlete doesn’t get much time on the court.
One of the athletes in my home had a character building season recently when more time was spent on the bench than the court. The athlete handled it really well. The mom still has room for improvement.
I learned a lot that season about myself and about my athlete. Watching the athlete on the bench afforded me plenty of time to ponder bench sitting. It didn’t take too many games before I realized I knew many people who are currently benched in life.
Some folks have been benched and taken out of the game without warning by unemployment or sudden crisis. Others may have been wounded by a crisis or the stinging words of others and chosen to sit out this season, not quite ready to play at full speed.
Just as in sports, everyone handles being benched differently. Some become angry and want to blame the moment on the coach, the rest of the team, the officials, maybe even the weather. Others, like my athlete, simply take it as part of the game. Part of the game is playing time, part of the game is bench time.
My athlete taught me a lot about how to use time on the bench. It can be used to encourage your fellow teammate, benchmate, or even the coach. Time on the bench can be used to study your opponent and learn their weaknesses.
Occasionally, an injury will force a player to the bench and that time is simply for healing. I consider the wounded people all around me, weighed down by grief for the season. I hope they will simply use this time to heal and not try to hobble through the game of life injured.
During one sporting season I had opportunity to observe another precious athlete who also handled being on the bench with grace and aplomb. A strong athlete but surrounded by others focused on this sport, this was simply not her season. She spent the majority of most games on the bench, but when coach sent her in, she flashed a huge smile, full of gazillions of dollars worth of braces.
This precious athlete played her little heart out, encouraging her teammates through each play. When coach nodded to her to come back out, her shoulders dropped ever so slightly, but she flashed the same huge smile. Back on the bench, she encouraged her teammates there, and cheered on those players still in the game.
Life will occasionally toss me onto the bench. I will try to learn a lesson from some of my young heroes. I will put a smile on my face and try to use my time on the bench to encourage those around me on the bench. Other times on the bench may simply need to be a time of healing and rest, and I will try to simply rest -- though the pecan incident reminded me that I don’t rest very well.
When I am called back into the game, I will also smile, appreciating that I can still play. I will play my heart out encouraging those around me, ever mindful of those on the bench who may also need a little encouragement.
I had no idea I could learn so much from watching young people sit on a bench.