Monday, February 24, 2014
The Family Tradition
Photo by Becky Davidson
"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."
(Psalm 139: 13-14, NIV)
I fell in love with the game of basketball when I was barely old enough to hold the ball between my hands. I carried that old worn leather ball around with me everywhere I went.
Everyone in our small rural town in Tennessee knew my father simply as “coach.” He spent decades coaching hundreds of boys and girls in basketball for our town’s only high school.
Needless to say our family lived and dreamed basketball. Growing up I was always either in a gym, or playing on our backyard court where my father had installed a goal on a telephone pole.
My dad had been a star player in high school himself and more than anything I wanted to be like my dad. There is something inside every little boy who measures himself by his dad’s achievements and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
One of the most joyous, and brutally challenging seasons of our life was when I played for him and he coached me in high school.
I proudly wore number 22 and I had almost every characteristic you could want in a star player. I had passion, energy, devotion, and ball smarts. I had an uncanny ability to manage the game. I loved the game, and I had terrific leadership skills.
There was only one thing I lacked to make my game complete.
When the game was on the line and you needed someone you could count on to make the game winning shot, well let’s just say you hoped I just stayed out of the way.
My dad had never pushed me to play basketball and he had never imposed his love for the game on me. It just came naturally out of being his son. But his love for me was never predicated or dependent upon how well I played the game that he had excelled at personally. He loved me because I was his son; it had nothing to do with my basketball ability.
We still live in the same town today. And now my own son is a freshman at that same Cookeville High School.
This morning my wife was dressing him for school. His special education class was going on a field trip to the Special Olympics for volleyball. Even though he physically cannot participate, he enjoys riding on the bus and hanging out with his class. As she pulled his “uniform” shirt over his head, I was startled to see he had randomly been assigned my old number 22. I think God was in that moment, as if He did that just for me.
When we first learned we were going to have a boy, I daydreamed and fantasized constantly about someday teaching my own son the game of basketball. I would plan out what skills I would teach him first, and how I would methodically mold him into the superstar I never was. All while he wore the family number 22.
My dream was to coach my son just as my dad had coached me. I even went so far to purchase a full sized basketball goal and had it in the driveway ready and waiting.
But autism and cerebral palsy had other plans. With his special needs I quickly realized those dreams would have to die. There would not be three generations of Davidsons playing basketball in the driveway together.
At first it was difficult coming to terms with laying down those dreams. Like any special needs dad, it’s hard to emotionally come to the point where you realize the dreams, goals, and plans you had for your child aren’t going to happen the way you hoped. But whose dream was it anyway? It wasn’t God’s dream.
This is where the choice happens for dads. You can choose to spend the rest of your life wallowing in the “why” and grieving the dead dreams. Most men choose this route. At the end of their journey they find they have been following a dead end street that goes nowhere.
Or you can go down the road marked “how.” How are we going to rise above this situation and still find the glory and purpose that God has in this? How can we use this “different dream” to still find fulfillment and joy? That is the road I have chosen.
My son will never win an NBA title. He will never be a Super Bowl champion. For that matter he will never write a symphony, paint a masterpiece, or accept the Nobel Prize.
He will also never do anything that makes me love him anymore than I already do. I love him because he is my son.
I made him. I created him. He was formed in my image. And for that, I love him unconditionally. Nothing he can ever do will make me love him any more than I already love him.
If all he ever does in life is just be my son, that is enough. My love for him is unconditional.
I got that from my dads.
Not just he one here on earth, but the One who made all of us as well.
Why do we think we have to do something to earn God’s love or make Him love us more than He does? He made you, He created you in His image, and He knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Don’t let anyone try to lie to you, try to deceive you, or try to persuade you otherwise.
Nothing you ever do will make God love you more than He already does now. He loves you because you are His son or His daughter.
God is not punishing you. God has not abandoned you. God has not forgotten you. God’s love for you is everlasting, never failing, and never ending.
Whether you can hit a jump shot or not.
PRAY: "Father thank you for loving us just the way we are, and thank you for loving us too much to leave us this way. Continue to show us Lord that your dreams for us and our children are so far greater than those we have ourselves."
Labels: autism, basketball, cerebral palsy, dads, dreams, God's love, high school, Jeff Davidson, love, Psalm 139, special needs, special needs dads, special needs parenting, Special Olympics, unconditional love
Author of "No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches: a father, a son with special needs, and their journey with God."