Lessons from Soccer Tryouts

confidence It's the absolute worst time of the year. It's soccer tryout week.

In years past, this has been a week filled with anxiety, tears and frustration. This year is better as my daughter already knows where she'll be playing next year, but it's still tough. My daughter comes home from tryout camp every day and asks me whether I thought she played well. She wants to know if she looked at least as good as everyone else on the field. She wants to make sure her coach isn't thinking that he made a mistake in inviting her back next year.

Soccer tryouts are a week of agony for my daughter. They are a week of constantly comparing herself to other people. They are a week of wondering whether she's good enough. They are a week of stress and crankiness.

My daughter plays on a competitive soccer team. I understand the need for tryouts. I understand the need to compare players to each other. I understand the need to choose the best players on the field. It doesn't make me dislike the process any less.

I spend so much of my time as a parent teaching my girls to be themselves. I spend a lot of time talking about how God made them unique and they shouldn't compare themselves to others. I spend day after day reminding my girls that each one of us has special talents and skills. And one week of soccer tryouts can lay waste to all of that parenting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that my daughter's coach has already let her know she's coming back next year. It takes huge amounts of stress out of the process. But even knowing that, my daughter has spent this week wallowing in insecurity. All the confidence she's built up during the year wobbles during this week.

And aren't we all like that? We can have all the confidence in the world that we're doing the right thing, walking the right path, following God where He's leading -- until we start comparing ourselves to other people. Comparison is a confidence killer. It is the fastest way to undermine our confidence in ourselves and our confidence in God.

Even in a situation like soccer tryouts, our kids need to know that their confidence, their worth doesn't come from how well they perform compared to someone else. They need to know that those things come from their faith in God. They need to know that they can always have confidence that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made." They need to have confidence that God has plans for them, "plans to prosper you and not to fail you."

There are situations in life when comparison is inevitable. But our kids don't have to let those situations undermine God's assurance that we are precious to Him. They don't have to let those comparisons make them feel less than worthy. They don't have to let the stress of being compared to someone else overwhelm them. They simply have to have confidence that God knows what He's doing.