Shooting Baskets In The Cold

Perspective can come from the darkest of places.

I stopped, dragged my old tired body to a nearby cold neighborhood park, and shot baskets with my son tonight.  A brief softball season seven years ago made me do it.

In 2003, my daughter started her softball career on an 8U team coached by my friend Bill Schum. That’s right.  Twelve barely able to yet catch or throw little girls made up the Red Rockies.  Most were there for the pure social aspects and post-game snacks.

Shelby was one of those girls.  She, however,  was clearly more naturally gifted, more intense, and much more motivated than the others.  Everyone could just tell she had IT.  She played that one year with us and moved on to greater things.

As seasons passed, the girls all drifted onto other teams, other cities, and other sports. On occasion we would catch a glimpse of Shelby, usually pitching extremely fast and overwhelming the other girls on some high-level travel team with the bleachers filled with admiring parents and fans.

Ashlee reconnected with her in Middle School. Never close friends, but always friendly, they spent and survived the dreaded middle school years together. The arrival of their freshman year of high school sent them in different directions and to different schools again.

Today my phone vibrated in the midst of a weekly regular meeting and jarred my routine.  A text from Ashlee.

Shelby had taken her own life.

And the question that thankfully is rarely asked, but never ceases to shake me, rolled through my head again.  “What makes a 15-yr old girl become so lonely/angry/discouraged/scared/confused that she would see exit as the only solution?”

The answer is never completely clear or simple.  It’s always complicated and complex.
I pondered as well a devastated family and destroyed parents.

I prayed.

And in a year in which I’ve determined to live deliberately, I paused.

Parenting 101 instructs us to “Always Know Where Your Kids Are”. Today I realized that is more than a call to be a parental GPS, but rather to really KNOW. Where is their heart? Where are their thoughts? Where are their hurts? How are their dreams? What are their fears?

I need to know.  I always need to know.

And so we shoot baskets. Well, He shoots. I rebound. I pass it back. He shoots again.
I attempt to KNOW.

Perspective can come from the darkest of places.

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~ by leecoate on January 4, 2011.

7 Responses to “Shooting Baskets In The Cold”

  1. I always have loved your perspective. Ironically, we’ll be attending a service tomorrow (Wed) for our own Shelby loss, a 17 year who was out late with 4 teens in the care on an icy road. A stupid game of chicken by the driver, ditch…death. She was in my children’s ministry for 5 years. My own thoughts on first hearing of the tragedy. ~take care my friend
    http://pj-splog.blogspot.com/2010/12/shocking-loss.html

    • Hey Jerry –

      I had heard about that tragedy as well. Brutal. Appreciate your thoughts — never easier to process for me …

  2. Wow, perspective does come from the craziest places.
    In fact, yesterday I was at starbucks and there was a girl about my age there talking with what seemed to be her father. She was talking about how she was utterly confused about life, didn’t know what to do, was looking for direction (sounds like most people I know my age) as she went on and on she would pass hoping that her dad would say something, he never did. I do not know if he didn’t have words to say or just wanted to let her vent, but it was hard for me to sit there and not say something and give this girl some hope.

    As I walked out of starbucks I called my dad and thanked him for all the times he listened to me but didn’t just let the words hang out in the air but actually offered up some hope and wise words. I am thankful for my parents.

    • Agreed Kyle — still working on mastering this whole parenting thing as well. Most ofnthe time for ke it is just a matter of not being checked out.

  3. That same question shakes me every time I hear about another kid taking their own life. How can a kid be that hopeless? How can a kid be the UNKNOWN?? It makes me be even more deliberate with my 3 yr old son now. I want to create an environment for the future that allows me to be available to KNOW WHERE HE IS. I never want to assume and never want to guess. I want to KNOW. He is too important to me and to God for me to just hope I will know him. Thank you for the words Lee.

  4. Every day we shake kids hands as they enter class. It makes me wonder about the ones that stop coming, where are they, why aren’t they here, did I do all I could do to express to them that they matter. The hurt is so deep and wide in kids. So hard to get my head around. Every day during those 30 seconds of silence I pray that God uses me. I want them to know they matter and are loved, if they could get that I wouldn’t ever care if they understood Algebra II at all.

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