Last week I helped my son study for the regional spelling bee. He won his school spelling bee which meant he had the opportunity to do the regional bee-the winner would win a trip to Washington D.C. with their parents to participate in the national bee. The Olympics have also been going the past couple of weeks and I’ve been learning to look at winning and losing in a different light. I found myself watching the Olympics, so worried about their mistakes, their falls and failures. Why does there have to be only one gold medal? I want them all to win. I know they’ve worked so hard for this moment and it’s painful to watch someone fall. Knowing this must feel devastating to them and their team of supporters, coaches, and families. Is it all worth it? One fall and you’re out. One misspelling of a word and my son’s out. Hours and hours of work. The tiniest thing could go wrong and it’s over.
My son really wanted to do the regional bee. He took it seriously but needed a lot of help studying. I had to quiz him over and over on the words. Japanese, Latin, Italian, Slavic, and more. All kinds of words with many we’ve never heard of-let alone knew how to pronounce. But we studied-looking up word meaning and pronunciation. In the beginning, the task felt overwhelming. I wondered if all this work would be worth it. I cancelled a trip to stay home and help him. If he got one letter wrong in the bee he would be out. All this work and the smallest thing could go wrong. I knew I had to look at this as bigger than winning or losing. I needed to step back and see the bigger picture. Follow the Spirit. Do what feels right-helping and encouraging my son with something that means a lot to him. Believe in him. Whatever happens-this is all part of life and submit to whatever is God’s will. He sees the big picture. He knows the beginning and end of everything. He knows all events and people in life are no accident and are part of the grand design. Everything that happens in our life can work together for our good (Romans 8:28), then win or lose, the experience can be worth it.
I spent hours and hours helping my son study. In the closet, late at night we would hide from distractions and I’d quiz him. Going for walks we took the words and studied. His sister helped him, his friend studied A LOT with him. The bee came. He lasted for a few rounds but then missed a word and he was out. I watched him on the stage. My heart ached for him. For all the time and work he put into the bee. I knew he wanted to win! I wanted him to win! I wanted to run on stage and give him a big hug. It hurt to watch. I was reminded once again by the Spirit, “There are no accidents. Everything happens for a reason. All things can work together for our good.”
I look back and see all the good that came from the spelling bee experience. I believed in my son and he knew it. There were tears, stress, discouragement and laughter. He wondered if this would all be worth it or even possible. He wanted something big that involved risk and hard work and he kept at it. I learned to support my son with something that meant a lot to him. We had some good times-with all our inside jokes and made up definitions. I also watched true friendship. His friend spent hours helping my son study. Two twelve year old boys spending recess, lunch and after school free time to study spelling words! He came with us to the regional bee and after for milkshakes. I was so grateful he was there after the bee for his support and kindness. I was touched by this Christlike love.
I admired my son for his hard work. For his attitude when it was over. For risking loss and disappointment but working and hoping for it anyway. All things really can work together for our good.
It was all worth it.