Tears only the strongest have cried.

Last week while I was folding laundry my daughter came to me with tears in her eyes. Not fake tears that just wanted some attention. Real tears. True tears. The kind of tears you try to hide, but your emotions are more powerful than your composure. The tears only the strongest have cried. The tears that make your lip quiver, then your nose burns. You want to speak, but you know your voice will crack. You desperately need a hug; but you refuse to be touched, because what follows an embrace is uncontrollable sobs. So instead, you look away as if that will distract your vulnerability from manifesting—except it doesn’t, does it? It never does. Once your nose burns it’s an involuntary reflex to release the pressure brewing in your heart.

Her tears instantly broke my heart, “Mama, I keep trying so hard—but I don’t have any goals.”

She’s in her 5th season of soccer; and my girl has taken a beating. Because of the way her birthday falls and age-cutoffs for her soccer league, last year she was literally the youngest and smallest child playing in her division. I had suggested she sit out for just one season and try something else; but she loves the game—she refused my advice and insisted she could handle it.  In that season, she was playing against stronger and more experienced players that were twice her size. Kids with the ability to kick soccer balls towards the goal with speed and intensity that could kill a small animal.

Because she chose to follow her own heart, and not mine; my daughter learned perseverance and bravery. Those aren’t traits that can be taught, they can only be experienced. The fire in her soul refuses to extinguish, even in the strongest storms, and sometimes it leaves me in awe.

During her toughest season, my daughter found her place on the soccer field. She fell in love with being inside the goal, protecting her team from intruding forces. She took balls to the face that I knew had broken her nose—or at least knocked out the loose tooth she refused to pull. She took a shot to the chest that left her unable to breathe long enough that my motherly instincts raced me across the field. She sacrificed her body and regularly walked away with bruises in order to protect the most vulnerable location to her team—The Goal.

1

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

–William Shakespeare

I put down the laundry I was folding and stared at her for a few seconds; then I held her while she cried so I could process the vulnerable emotions she needed me to protect in that moment.

“Baby, listen to me, you don’t need to score goals to prove your worth. How many balls did you stop today?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know either… because I lost count.

How many times did you attack the ball and kick it out from underneath the opposing player’s feet?”

“I don’t know (shy smile.)”

“I don’t know either… because I lost count.

I know scoring goals looks glamorous. Everyone cheers, you’re filled with pride, and your team high fives you. But sweetie, you’re a defensive player. It’s in your heart—you do it without even realizing the impact you’re making. You know why? Because it comes natural to you; it’s your God-given ability to protect and defend. Defenders don’t score a lot of goals; their job is to open up the lanes for their teammates to score—and unfortunately they rarely get the credit they deserve. But you’re part of a team; and every person on a team has strengths that place them where they need to be. Some players are faster and have more coordination to move the ball up and down the field. That doesn’t make them better than you; and your defense doesn’t make you better than them—when your team combines those strengths, they become unstoppable.

You’re gonna score a goal; and you’re gonna score it this season. You know why? Because you’re past your toughest season now. You refused to give-up; you stepped up and you found where you belong. You played your heart out no matter how many balls flew towards your head; and you deserve a goal more than anyone else on that field. And do you know what’s gonna happen when you score that goal?”

“No. (bigger smile)”

“Everyone is gonna cheer louder than they ever have because we’ve all been waiting on your moment to shine. Then your mama is gonna rush the field to give you the biggest hug ever. Is that okay?”

“(small chuckle) Yes, Mama.”

“Sweet girl, don’t ever forget that offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.”



I’m talking to you too, Mama. I see you. I see you behind the scenes defending your team. Whether you work full time or stay at home with your kids—I see you. Exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed; but dinner is still on the table. Maybe that dinner is cereal, but that’s okay—your team is still dribbling, aren’t they?

I see you staying up too late just to catch a single moment for yourself; and then cussing the alarm five hours later. You hit snooze and spend three more minutes dreaming up excuses to keep everyone home so you can sleep a little longer; but then you roll outta bed because your team is counting on you to start the day—tardy is inexcusable and bills don’t pay themselves.

Mama, I see you color-coding calendars to make sure everyone is in position and a strategy in place. I see you picking up the house every night once everyone is asleep; and starting laundry at 10pm because you were laying out outfits for the next day and realized no one had clean underwear. I see you removing grass stains from uniforms and finding the lost stuffed animal that your child cannot sleep without. I see you cleaning litter boxes and washing the dog after they left muddy prints all over the sheets you have no time to wash.

I saw you rush your child to the hospital because the fever wouldn’t go down and you were the only one who knew something wasn’t right. I saw you hold them while they shivered for 2 hours. Your arm went numb; but you still kept rocking. You came home that night and tucked them in bed beside you, breathing in all their contagious germs–never once concerned for your own health. I saw you when you realized there was no more Tylenol, so you got in your car at midnight and drove through the rain to make sure your child had what they needed. I know you think your efforts go unnoticed, and for the most part they do—but don’t ever forget, I see you.

I see you emptying dishes and picking up dirty socks. I see you sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets while the rest of your team rests until bedtime. I see you sorting through bills and I feel your heart drop when you realize one didn’t get paid in time. You handle it silently and you carry that burden. You’re the reason the water stays on and the electric still warms your home every night. I see you defending your family and keeping them safe.

I see you documenting every moment with photos because you know one day you’re gonna miss this; and I also see that you’re rarely in those photographs. I see you scheduling dentist appointments and yearly checkups, when you don’t have time to schedule one for yourself. I see you stepping up to lead or coach your child’s activities even though one more commitment might break you. But no one else offered to help; and you don’t want your kids to miss a single opportunity. So you reach deep inside and summon the strength and patience you’re not sure you have.

I see you rushing from one side of the goal to the other; shuffling your team here and there and everywhere—stressed beyond measure and praying you make it on time. You always make it though, sometimes by the skin of your teeth—but you sacrifice anything you can to keep your team in the lead.

Sometimes the ball gets dropped though, doesn’t it? And you cry yourself to sleep because you failed. You didn’t fail though, Mama. Dropped balls happen; and everyone has a bad game once in a while. Go home and wash your face. Get some rest, because your team needs you ready to defend tomorrow.

You try so hard and dream of the day when all your hard work and dedication finally score you the goal you deserve. I see you envious of the moms who have time to work out every single morning; and then go shop for the latest trends. They’re always so put together and their clothes are never stained with chocolate handprints. I see you wanting to go back to work, or dreaming of a better job—but the other team scores instead. While they brag about their new opportunities and six-figure salaries; you want to leave your post and give up on ever scoring your own goal. Maybe this game just isn’t for you?



Sweet Mama,

I see you cry real tears. True tears. The kind of tears you try to hide, but your emotions are more powerful than your composure. The tears only the strongest have cried. The tears that make your lip quiver, then your nose burns. You want to speak, but you know your voice will crack. You desperately need a hug; but you refuse to be touched, because what follows an embrace is uncontrollable sobs. So instead, you look away as if that will distract your vulnerability from manifesting—except it doesn’t, does it? It never does. Once your nose burns it’s an involuntary reflex to release the pressure brewing in your heart.

The fire in your soul refuses to extinguish, even in the strongest storms; and sometimes it leaves me in awe. Listen to me, you don’t need to score goals to prove your worth.

Accept my embrace. Relax in my arms and just be still while I protect your vulnerable emotions in this moment. My child, I know scoring looks so glamorous, but you’re a defensive player. It’s in your heart—you do it without even realizing the impact you’re making. You know why? Because it comes natural to you; it’s the ability I gave you—the ability to protect and defend. You sacrifice so much of yourself without hesitation. I see you; and I need you to stay at your post. I need your defense. I need someone willing to sacrifice herself for the most vulnerable position on our team—The Goal.

You’re gonna score a goal; and you’re gonna score it this season. You know why? Because you’re past your toughest season now. You refused to give-up; you stepped up and you played your heart out no matter how many balls flew towards your head. You deserve a goal more than anyone else on that field. And do you know what’s gonna happen when you score that goal?

Everyone is gonna cheer louder than they ever have because we’ve all been waiting on your moment to shine. Then I’m gonna rush the field to give you the biggest hug ever. Is that okay?

Precious Mama, don’t ever forget that offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.

I love you and I see you,

-God

1 thought on “Tears only the strongest have cried.”

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