one of the fun things about facebook is getting to re-connect with people and places from the past. i imagine that could also be a not-so-fun-thing, as well. depends on your past, i suppose. not that my past was by any means perfect, but i do really get a kick out of the little connections. maybe you have to be well into your middle age to really get this (or to be heard using the phrase "get a kick out of.") but seriously, i can't believe that i can be a wife, a mother and 43 years old, but still know a tiny bit about people from grade school, high school, college and beyond. prior to the social media craze, there was just no way that could be possible. we'd show up at our high school or college reunions and marvel at the changes (or lack of changes) we'd encounter. but now, thanks to things like facebook, we can have a regular dose of these little newsy nuggets.
and, i have to tell you, occasionally, it is fun in the middle of my now, to see something like this pop up. in the middle of making dinner and dentist appointments and grocery store runs, it is amusing to stop and look at a picture from the past. and remember. to remember that i was 14 once. to remember that i once wore red and white saddle shoes and cheered passionately for the st. john jets boys' basketball team.
back in 8th grade, i had acne and boy problems and way too much homework. and of course, i remember having never enough time, but that's good to remember too, isn't it? especially as a mother. with two high schoolers and one in junior high, it is important for me to remember what it felt like to be that age. to be that young. to be figuring it all out. i mean, let's be honest here, i am still (clearly) figuring it all out...and unfortunately, i am also [somehow] still battling some acne and not enough time, but the truth is, it is easy to forget what it felt like to be 14. somehow 30 years happened between then and now. i turned away briefly, and three decades were gone. we move on from the various chapters of life and often when we do take the time to glance back to the past, our vision becomes blurry and we see only the blaze of glory. the bright spots. the sunny days. when, if we would take a good look and really stop to remember, we'd most likely recall that not everything was perfect. for some reason, my kids think my school years were golden. i don't know where they got that idea, but they have said more than a few times, "mom, it was easy for you. mom, you did everything well. mom, you didn't struggle." really? they know that. they remember, huh? really? what a terrible disservice i have done them if this fallacy is what they truly believe. they need to know that their mom faced struggles, challenges, disappointments and yes, even failure. no one escapes the school years unscathed. no one. not one. not even a cheerleader.
"but mom, you were a cheerleader," they argue. as if that explains something. like a girl who can clap on beat and hold two pom-poms in her hands has the perfect life. wrong. wrong. wrong. but funny how we think. funny the assumptions we make. funny and dangerous, that is. so though we have to be careful when we glance back to our past, it still can be a treat to do so. it is fun to look back and remember the big game or the great laughs. it is wonderful to remember how i had to tear into the locker room to change from basketball player to cheerleader when the girls and boys had games on the same night. those are great memories. but what struck me most when i saw this picture earlier this week, was not about remembering the cheerleader i was then, but considering the cheerleader i am now. right now.
that said, before i write even one word further, let me be crystal clear: i wouldn't be caught dead in that red and white get up today (can you hear the audible sigh? that would be the sound of my kids' relief), but, regardless of costume or uniform, i am needed so much more today as a cheerleader than i ever was in 8th grade. i thought i was important then playing on the basketball team and getting to cheer lead too, but that is nothing in comparison to my role as wife and mother. i get to be a lot of things in this role, but one of the most important parts to my job is to cheer for my husband and my kids. they need me rooting for them. they need me on the sidelines doing cartwheels and flips and calling out words of encouragement. and i'm not talking about just when emily is in the middle of a big volleyball match or tyler is on the soccer field scoring another goal. i am talking about the every day...the daily grind...the little ins and outs of life. i am talking about being there for my kids in the midst of nothing special, in the middle of the routine. having a word of praise, giving a hug, ruffling some hair, patting a shoulder, making a sandwich, listening to a long story...that kind of thing.
i've saved my saddle shoes and that letter "J" from the front of my cheerleading outfit. i have the photos and programs and mementos all stashed away and fading in a box marked jody's 8th grade stuff. it's old stuff. really old. and i have no desire to go back, but i have to be thankful for the opportunity to remember and the opportunity to consider the job of cheerleader. what we do is important. it was important then. it is important now. we don't know what God will choose to use in our lives as we are shaped and transformed. we can't know. but we do know He uses much of it. most of it. probably, all of it. often i believe it is a matter of what we are open to. will we be open to the seeing...to the memory...to the lesson...to the learning. i tell my kids that all the time. "God will use this." i don't know why you have to sit the bench or struggle in that class or lose your phone or forget your homework or stub your toe or have your heart broken...but God will use this. yes, even this.
i can only speak from experience. and i am certain some of the, both struggling and successful, roads He led me down then, have helped shape me into who i am now. and that sometimes painful shaping only continues! [thank heavens!} that's what i want my kids to know. not just that their mom could do a cartwheel, but that what happened in 8th grade has an impact on now. and what is happening now, has an impact on tomorrow. there's a take away to be found when we are willing to remember. willing to look. willing to learn.
last night, i had the chance to watch emily's varsity volleyball team compete in a heated match with a school they had never before beaten. it was a david and goliath match. emily's small christian school against a local, large public school. the girls took the match to five games and after two hours of play, they won. oh my -- talk about cheering. i am hoarse today from all the yelling and shouting. it was an amazing evening watching emily and her team play to such a big victory. that's the fun part of cheering, isn't it? the victory. the wonderful winning. we all love that experience and find it easy to cheer them on. cheer them loudly when they are glorious. cheer them exuberantly when they are amazing. brilliant. accomplished. confident. but, since those 8th grade days of the st. john jets, i have learned that what really counts is cheering my family and friends on when it isn't so glorious. when it's not so pretty or exciting or hopeful or breathtaking to watch. that's when our cheering really counts. sometimes i have to cheer them on in the middle of something messy or painstaking or even downright boring. i assure you, we have plenty of those moments too. but cheering is a privilege. hard or easy, it's an opportunity to encourage. and, the bottom line is, i signed up for this role when i became a wife and mother. i need to sometimes be reminded of that.
i'm not feeling compelled any longer, to work on my splits or front handspring, but i am certain i needed to see that picture again and remember those saddle shoes and pom-poms from so long ago. i needed to remember what it felt like to be young. to remember what it felt like to be in want of a few fans. to remember what it felt like to have someone cheer my name out loud.
"encourage each other and build one another up...
just as you are doing." ~ 1 thessalonians 5:11
"and let us consider how we may spur (or cheer)
one another on toward love and good deeds." ~ hebrews 10:24
one another on toward love and good deeds." ~ hebrews 10:24