Recently, I was sitting on the sideline watching my son play soccer enjoying the afternoon fall weather. The boys were playing well, the sun was shining, a cool breeze kept the sweat at bay and I was able to watch my son shine at something that he is passionate about. Of course, as you may have guessed this story doesn’t end in victory or cheers. In fact it isn’t even really about the game itself, but the fans, the parents, the ones who come to support the players and “cheer” them on.
My blissful state was interrupted by, “That Parent.” You know which one I’m talking about. The one who yells so loud that nothing can be heard over him. He is the one who takes it upon himself to attempt coaching from his cozy chair, the one who criticizes every player on the field except his own and the one who offends every other parent in attendance. Yep, you know whom I’m talking about.
While watching the boys play, he began berating them from his spot in the crowd. Guffawing loudly at a missed pass. Yelling derogatory remarks when shots were missed or taken too early. Having a fit when his son was open and the player with the ball didn’t pass it to him. He was aggressively encouraging fouls and making offensive remarks about the other team’s players. The other parents rolled their eyes at the usual antics, a mother from the other team attempted to yell over him, I became annoyed and angry.
As I sat stewing I began missing out what was happening on the field. I was unable to recall a skill move my son had made that he was so proud of because my focus was elsewhere. I was upset and fighting an internal battle of speaking up or sitting quietly.
It is moments like these that as I sit in reflection that I realize that I allowed this one person to distract me with feelings of anger. I let my mood be swayed by the negative influence of one person. My reaction in that situation was the only thing I could control. I am reminded of a passage in James 1:19-20 which says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” When deciding how to react I think of Proverbs 15, which tells us, “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”
It is not always easy to return anger and rudeness with a smile. After some prayer and spending time in God’s word I was able to see the situation in a new light. I chose to surround myself with friends and family. I brought along some ear buds to listen to music and made an effort to smile and greet every parent including “that parent” with warm sentiments and kindness. No, my actions haven’t changed much about his behavior, but my behavior has been changed as a result and my attitude much improved. I am not worried about what he is doing, but instead what my child and his teammates are doing. I am able to be filled and maintain a joy while celebrating the victories and sharing in the losses. I am focused on what is most important, the kids.