Sunday, January 24, 2016

Stepping Stones to Success

As I read a story in the scriptures with my children earlier this week, the thought struck me that just because God commands us to do something does not mean that I will succeed right away! I may fail several times before finally figuring out how it is that I can do what God has commanded me. This was a different perspective for me because in my simple, human mind, I always wanted to believe that since God had commanded it, the way would be opened right away. That's partially true. Yes, the way will be opened, but not necessarily right away. Sometimes the way is opened after some serious failures, and sometimes the way is opened after we discover what it is that HE really wants us to learn in the process. God is amazing how HE turns those "failures" into stepping stones towards success… if we allow HIM.

This past weekend, my oldest son, Jackson, had a wrestling tournament. Per his age, Jackson should still be in 8th grade, but we put him in high school 2 years early. Therefore, he has to wrestle against kids several years older and more physically developed than he is. He wrestles in the JV spot on the team and has actually been doing really well against other JV wrestlers throughout the area.

This past weekend, however, almost all his opponents were varsity wrestlers. He had to wrestle against some of the top kids in the state. On Friday, he lost every match. (That would certainly equate to a lot of failures, right?) My father-in-law drove almost 2 hours to our house to come pick us up to take us to Jackson's wrestling match. I took video of the matches and texted them to my husband. He then called Jackson and gave him pointers from what he saw.

On his final match of the day on Friday, Jackson lost again, but the referee, seeing how hard Jackson continued to fight, raised his hand as a winner as well. Our hearts were touched. Yes… he was an athlete who would not quit… therefore he was a winner. Jackson, however, still wanted more and was determined to make it happen.

Abe came home at 3:30am Saturday morning. The wrestling tournament continued into Saturday, so Abe drove Jackson to meet his wrestling team at 6:00am then returned to the house to take the rest of us to the wrestling tournament.

Saturday started out just as bleak as Friday ended… another loss. Abe sat him down and talked to him about how to improve. He told him what to do in certain situations. Jackson listened intently.

By Saturday afternoon, Jackson had only won one of 7 matches. Jackson's next opponent was his own teammate, who had the varsity position on his high school team. Jackson started the match with a drive and wrestled very bravely. Several times he was almost pinned, but he fought and squirmed his way out. Every time he escaped we all breathed a sigh of relief. In fact, the only points Jackson was earning were escape points. When you're always "escaping," that usually means you're being dominated, and Jackson was being dominated… BUT he wasn't quitting!

Earlier in the day, there were wrestling matches taking place on 5 mats; but at this point, Jackson's match was the only one going on. Jackson's coaches didn't know which of their athletes to cheer for since they were both on the same team. Abe, however, was yelling from the side of the mat instructing Jackson as he wrestled.

The two boys then entered the 3rd and final round. Jackson, 3 years younger than his varsity teammate, was losing by a landslide. The score was 18 to 5!!

Abe continued to coach Jackson, and the kids and I continued to encourage him with our yells.

All of a sudden, Jackson's varsity opponent was wrapped up in Jackson's arms!! Jackson had him in a head-lock!! None of us even knew how it happened exactly, but we were all screaming as Jackson began rolling his teammate over onto his back. The time was ticking down, and Jackson's entire team, the coaches from the other teams, and fans from other schools were all rallying around and yelling for little Jackson. Everyone could see the score- Jackson was losing.. by a LOT! And everyone could see that Jackson had clearly taken control with only a few seconds remaining. Would he hold onto this kid? Could he pin him in time?!? Everyone was rooting for little Jackson to get him down!! If he didn't pin him, he would lose. It had to be a pin!

We were all making a scene! I was hopping around on my one leg with the other one extended in the brace. All of my other children were screaming at him and hitting the mat. Jackson kept pushing with all his might!! He had lost too many matches that weekend! He had lost too many times to this kid in practice. Jackson pushed harder and never quit.

We all watched closely with great anxiety as Jackson's opponent's shoulder blades inched closer and closer to the mat. "Bam!!" The referee slammed his hand down on the mat! Pin!!! Jackson pinned him! Screams erupted from EVERYONE! The coach walked up to Jackson immediately after that match and with a big grin said, "You now have the varsity position!"

The sentiment was the same for all of us… what a lesson of never quitting… what a lesson of trying and trying again for success… what a lesson of staying steady and learning from our "failures" along the way so that we can eventually succeed. What a lesson of using those "failures" or losses as "stepping stones to success."

As I pondered all of this today, my thoughts turned to our upcoming move.

I have been given the daunting task to pack our 5-bedroom, 2-story house in a few weeks with my husband only home on the weekends, and a fractured knee which continues to prohibit me from driving, lifting, and bending.

My first few tries at packing up the house failed… I tried to work as I normally did, and I ended up in severe pain each night. My sons had ideas on how to pack things up, but I criticized some of their methods because their methods weren't as efficient or as organized as I would have done it.

So… there I was in a lot of pain and in a constant state of criticizing… it didn't feel good.

Abe had given our boys a very serious talk about their duty in the home while he was gone… especially since I was unable to do very much. Jackson, my oldest, was gone a lot for school functions. He was taking the city bus and getting home pretty late each evening since I couldn't drive him, so my next son was taking charge. It wasn't until I stopped to listen to my surroundings that I realized what was happening.

In the absence of his father and his older brother, Tyson was truly shining. He is 12-years-old, and in my church that means he can receive the Aaronic priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood is the power of God that young men can receive. Tyson received it in December. He knows he is to use that power to serve and to lead. I believe God wanted Tyson to have the opportunity to use that sacred power because I saw something different in him. I saw him take on his responsibility with a different accountability. It was quite amazing what they have done...

My young children have taken 3 bunk beds, and 1 queen-size bed down the stairs. They have also taken 5 dressers and a couch down the stairs. I didn't help with any of it. In fact, the only things left upstairs at this moment are their suitcases and their sleeping bags.

Under the direction of Tyson, the entire upstairs has been taken out to the garage. In the process of it all, Tyson created games to keep the little ones working! They turned each other into wheel barrows. He had a great idea to award stars to the children for every load they carried down the stairs. According to Tyson, the child with the most stars would get to sleep with the cat that night.

All the children have been cleaning and scrubbing without a single complaint!!

I have to keep reminding myself that it's ok that they're throwing wet rags at each other and are often goofing around. They have been called upon to care for their mother, and they are fulfilling that duty.

When I asked Tyson to reorganize the garage to create walkways, he created a clubhouse and hide-outs in the process for his siblings. Of course in my adult mind, that was a waste of time… until I heard the laughter and saw the result… they had done a marvelous job… and created marvelous bonding experiences at the same time.

The moments that have touched my heart the very most are the 2 times when I had a severe fall and re-injured my knee in the past couple of weeks. They rushed to my side and held my hand as I moaned on the ground in pain. I believe they have felt the calling from God to take care of their mother.

So… as far as I can understand, I thought I was commanded to pack up the house. I'm discovering that I was commanded to be humble and allow my children to shine… as I packed up the house. I failed at my first few attempts of humility, but the Lord commanded it, so HE opened up the way for me to see just how influential these children can be if I trust them to lead.

Isn't is interesting how the Lord teaches us? HE loves us so much. God allows us to fail so that we can succeed, but HE even allows our "failures" to turn into beautiful experiences and stepping stones to success if we allow HIM to take charge.