Monday, February 17, 2014

You can do ALL things.... {How Swimming and Philippians Taught My Son Courage}

I took the kids to another competition last Sunday.  It was a competition like the others that they previously joined, but R was feeling anxious about it.  I could sense his usual fretfulness a few days before the meet.  He would ask me details about his swim events day after day.  "What are my events?  How many meters? How many laps do I have to swim? Do I have any relay events? Why do I have to join pa? Who else is joining ba?"  All sort of questions are running inside his disquieted mind.  
Go, Team Ong!!!
"Why do I have to join the competition?  Baka I am going to be last..." As a mom, it affects me to see him plagued with these thoughts.  I know I have to help him overcome and conquer his feelings of self-doubt. And everytime I feel that he is starting to doubt himself, I always set him aside for some pep talk.  When he starts saying "I cannot..."  I do not let him finish his sentence and I cheerfully cut him short,"Oh! But yes you can!  What does the Bible say if you feel like you are not strong enough to do it?  Remember:  YOU can do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens YOU."

I always say the same thing, the words are not always exactly the same, but the idea is. And I keep on repeating the same verse again and again and again... for more than two years now  Most times even upto the day of the meet itself.  "God said you can do ALL things... not some things, so do not limit yourself.  If you train hard everyday and you do your best for God, the gold medal is within your reach."  And I say that to him everyday, as soon as I sense his competition anxiety starts kicking in.

In the photo below, that is R from a swim meet exactly 2 years ago.  You can see worry written all over his face, and that is already after he has finished his event and just waiting for his heat-mates to finish theirs. 
Here he is after swimming the  50-meter breaststroke (2012)
He did not particularly like swimming at that time.  He tried basketball, soccer and badminton; but he did not seem to be fond of those, too.  Just last June 2013, he asked me if he could stop swim training.  And I said he could if he was able to give a sport that he'd like to move on to.  And I told him that in the meantime while he was thinking of another sport to get in to, just give his best everyday during swim training. 

He usually feels most anxious in the days leading upto a meet.  And I have gotten used to it, and actually consider myself pretty much improved at giving him encouraging talks.  

Encouraging my son meant to give him courage to face his fear.  I remember the first time he jumped off from the diving block during his first ever competition.  To be on the diving block alone is quite intimidating, jumping into the water from the height of the diving block is actually scary.  Add to that, he was also terrified to be doing it in front of everyone else.  But I also know that I had to help him act in spite of his fear. AND that is the very definition of courage:  Acting even when you are afraid.  Because courage is not the ABSENCE of fear, it is ACTING in spite of the fear.

Soon after, jumping off from the diving block did not bother him as much anymore.  But when I say it does not bother him, it just means that he doesn't verbalize his uneasiness that much anymore.  As his mom and because I know him so well, I can see a little bit of apprehension in the way he moves and acts before he gets on the diving block during a meet.  But it makes me so proud that we were able to do something about how he handled his fear there.

But as soon as we got over that, another fear came up, "I am scared of swimming the 50-meter butterfly.  What if I get too tired and I cannot finish it?"  Again, I give him the same verse, "YOU can do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens YOU.  Remember YOU WILL FINISH the event and YOU WILL NOT get tired, because who gives you strength?"  And he answers dutifully, "Jesus."

To be truthful, I was thinking that the reason why he didn't enjoy swimming that much was that he wasn't that good at it yet; always being in middle of the rankings. But I know he is a work in progress, and so I did not tire from encouraging him day after day... after day after day.  But a few of my swim-moms know that I also have days when I feel like I don't know what I am doing and feel the frustration set in.  But I quickly get out of that mindset, always remembering that in as much as I want my kids to give their best, my heavenly Father also requires the same from me in terms of being a parent to my kids.

And so last Sunday, just before he went down to the ready bench for his first event, I took him aside and whispered, "You can do it, R! Remember, God promised in the Bible, YOU can do ALL things... ALL things remember that!" And my husband and I watched in anticipation each time he climbs up the diving block up until he touches the wall for all of his events.

He finished the meet with 4 medals for his individual events and some more medals for his relay events!!! He finally got hold of that gold medal for the 50-meter breaststroke!  
He won a gold in 50-meter breaststroke, silver in 50-meter butterfly, bronze in 50-meter backstroke, bronze in 50-meter freestyle, silver for the 4x50 butterfly, silver for the 4x50 breaststroke.  YAY!
Indulge me for being the proud mommy as I bask in helping him overcome a major roadblock in his life.  I traveled this path filled with anxiety and self-doubt with him.  I thank God for hearing my prayers, and that R found favor with Him.  It's really not about the medals, but they are the tangible representations of what I have been patiently teaching him all these years.  
The elusive gold medal finally!
He is so overjoyed!!!  Up until last night, right before he went to bed, he came up to me with a smile, "Mom, I still can't believe I won a gold medal!" This is coming from a boy who just more than six months ago wanted to quit the sport already because he felt he wasn't good enough.  And of course, I couldn't resist bringing up OUR favorite verse:  "YOU can do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens YOU.  I keep on telling you that. Now, do you finally believe Mom?" He nodded as I hugged him close to me. 


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