I’m not a kid anymore. My wife and kids frequently remind me of my upcoming 40th birthday. Gray seems to have won the battle for my sideburns and threatens to claim the hairs on my chin as well. So then, there’s not much use for the word “cheerleading” anymore. Seems to be a word that belongs to a younger crowd. Reminds you of high school football or that unbridled energy and support you’d throw behind a favorite band. I’m supposed to be more cynical or sophisticated now But think about it, who wouldn’t want attractive, enthusiastic people patrolling the sidelines of their life; constantly believing, earnestly encouraging, disregarding the “score” and choosing to hope.
For the record, my wife was a cheerleader. At the time people might have thought that it came from a desire to roll with a cool crowd or because she possessed a little rhythm. In truth, I think Kait would have been a cheerleader whether or not they gave her the uniform and the pom poms. It’s easy to dismiss someone who always seems so happy, so upbeat. I wonder if I, HER HUSBAND, was guilty of the same error in judgment that so many others have made.
About a year and a half ago, I learned that there would no longer be a teaching position for me at the school I worked at. I identified myself as a teacher. People’s posture would straighten around me and they’d take more care with their grammar. It paid the bills. Not teaching and not being unable to provide, hurt. A lot. I’m pretty sure that you don’t need to wait until you’re almost 40 to have felt deeply disappointed or that you’ve failed and let down people who are relying on you.
Looking back, I wasn’t without work for too long. It just seemed like it. And the move to a new line of work wasn’t easy. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to start back at the bottom or how disappointing it felt to return to a line of work that I did prior to teaching. All along, walking my sidelines, never tiring, never giving up hope, there was Kait. She wasn’t alone. At church there were people who prayed and were dialed in to what the Holy Spirit was doing who would encourage me. Even as I undertook humbling, new work in an old field, God had placed someone there to build me up and help me see an opportunity that I never would have thought possible.
I was on the receiving end of Godly, life-giving cheer leading. While life takes its shots and tells you stay down, God’s voice comes through, “You’re mine.” “I made you to succeed”. “I define you. Not your job. Not your defeats.”
I remember Kait having this idea that she’d home school. (Didn’t she know that I was the teacher?) I don’t think I projected anything too negative, neither did I put on my school sweater and pom poms. But, I got it! I saw something. I realized that no one could know our kids like Kait. No one wanted more for them. No person would be more relentless in prayer, or more committed to their growth than she. Oh yeah, I began to believe in her.
That mutual belief in each other has unified us. Let me tell you a little secret. We don’t have much in common. There’s not many shows we can watch together. We don’t play softball or ride bikes together. She’s into glu-gar (no gluten, no sugar, beware the glugar!) free food and gets veganism. I like food with bones attached to it. But, cheering for each other has made life simple and put us on the same page.
In thinking about this blog, I turned to Acts 9. Saul, brilliant and misguided, is blinded on the road to Damascus. Imagine the disappointment and regret as he realizes, well into his 30’s, that he’s missed the mark. His career and that which he poured his energies into were taken away. Even, though Jesus had spoken to Paul, he still needed the likes of Ananias and Barnabus to come along side. Ananias heard what God was saying about Paul. When he decided to obey God, believe in Paul, and pray for him…”something like scales fell from his eyes” (Acts 9:18)
Come on! Who needs you? Does your spouse know that you believe, really believe in their dream? Are you too busy trying to fix somebody to be their cheerleader. What if? What if we helped something like scales fall from their eyes?