As most of you know, my youngest daughter plays ice hockey. She doesn't just play ice hockey, she's passionate about all things hockey. If there's a game on TV, we watch it. If there's a stick and a tennis ball available, we play it. If there's an opportunity to strap on skates, she takes it.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are going on right now. Just about every night for the past month, we've watched at least some part of a hockey game. This is the first year I've watched hockey on TV from the vantage point of being a hockey mom. I know a whole lot more about the game and about how hard it really is to play.
Those guys in the NHL make it look easy, but if you've ever watched a hockey game, you'll notice that even the guys in the NHL fall down sometimes. When you're chasing a small piece of frozen rubber while skating on a sheet of ice, even the professionals can fall down.
Did you know that one of the first things they teach kids in learn-to-skate classes is how to fall down and how to get back up? When you're learning to play hockey, it's inevitable that you will fall down. Knowing how to get back up puts you back in the game faster.
Life is a lot like a hockey game. I don't know anyone who doesn't fall down on occasion. We fail at something at which we really wanted to succeed. We make a mistake in dealing with our kids. We miss an opportunity that God gave us to share His love and compassion with someone.
Our kids fall down, too. They fight with their siblings. They say the wrong thing to a friend. They don't make the cut to make the team or the school play. They are disrespectful to mom and dad.
All of these scenarios lead to pain and disappointment in varying degrees. But, if we learn and we teach our kids how to get back up and get back in the game, we are much more useful to God than if we wallow in our mistakes and failures.
God doesn't remember our mistakes and failures. Psalm 103:12 says "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." And Paul reminds us not to dwell on our past mistakes in Philippians 3:13-14 when he says "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Getting back up and into the game isn't always easy. When you fall down hard, when you fail at something, it would be so much easier to just give up and walk away. But, God has a plan for your life and your children's lives, so it's important to know how to get back in the game and let God use you and what you've learned from your failures to help you fill your role in His plan.
In hockey, they teach kids to pull their knees up underneath them, and then put one knee up and push themselves to a standing position and go hard to get back in the game. That's a pretty good model for getting back up in life, too. Rarely do we just hop back up, straight to our feet. Teach your kids these steps for getting past failure. Equate it getting up when we fall down. You can't go from laying down straight to your feet, but you can take steps to get yourself upright again.
- Get to your knees: When you fail, pray and ask God to forgive any sin that may have played a role in your failure. Ask Him to show you how to go forward.
- Get one foot under you: Take a step toward getting back into the game of life. Take another stab at whatever knocked you down or go in a different direction.
- Push to a standing position: In hockey, many kids will use their stick to push themselves all the way to their feet. Consider God to be your hockey stick. Lean on His strength and guidance to show you how to go on in the face of failure. Let Him fill you up with the strength you need to face the day and to show you which way to go from here.
- Get your feet under you and go full speed: God's got a plan for your life. He wants you to get back in the game as quickly as possible. He needs your heart fully engaged with Him. Only when you are seeking Him -- spending time with Him and asking for His guidance -- can you go full speed ahead in the game of life.
Falling down is part of life. Knowing how to get back up after we fall gets us back in the game so God can use us.