My little brother was a late bloomer when it came to sports. In high school he actually became quite athletic but when he was eight-years-old he was pretty small for his age and would rather play with his gargoyle action figures than play any sport.
This was much to the dismay of my dad who loves sports and had big dreams for his firstborn son. You can imagine he was pretty excited when Spencer said he would like to play midget football.
He registered Spencer and they went to his first practice. Bless Spence’s heart, he couldn’t even do a jumping jack correctly during warm-ups and the practice just went downhill from there. Less than halfway through this season-opening practice, Spencer came over to my dad during a water break and told him that he just didn’t feel like football was for him.
“Let’s go to Sonic and get some milkshakes,” Spencer remembers telling my dad.
My dad told Spencer that he wasn’t going to let him quit and that he needed to run back onto the field. My brother repeated his argument for why he didn’t want to play football anymore and then again suggested they stop wasting their time and go to Sonic for milkshakes.
To make it very clear to my brother that he was not going to let him give up, my dad climbed into his car and began to drive away with Spencer still begging him to let him in the car. My brother said that in that moment he thought my dad was being completely insensitive and he couldn’t believe that his own dad would leave him there to suffer and embarrass himself.
However, 11 years later, when Spencer was serving a mission in California, he began to appreciate what took place on that football field all those years before. He said that each time he felt like giving up he remembered that his dad had not raised him to be a quitter and it kept him going. He wrote to my dad and thanked him for leaving him there on the football field that day.
My dad wrote him back and told him something he had never told him before.
He told Spencer that he vividly remembered that day and how hard it was for him to say no to Spencer’s requests to leave. But then he told Spencer that while he did drive away, he didn’t actually leave Spencer there alone.
He told him that when he thought my dad had left, he actually just drove over to the other side of the football field where Spencer couldn’t see him and he watched his little boy the rest of the practice. He made sure that he was okay and rooted silently for him.
This story is typical of my dad. He is so good and so loving. But I think this also illustrates a powerful message about our Heavenly Father. We often go through hard things. We feel like quitting and we beg Heavenly Father to excuse us from our trials. But sometimes we feel like He gets in the car and drives away.
I am a firm believer that He never actually leaves us on the field alone. He just goes to a spot where we can’t see him and he watches us as we fight through our trials. He roots for us and He makes sure that we’re okay. He does this because these experiences help us grow and he knows that farther down the road we will thank him. We’ll thank Him for not letting us quit and for loving us enough to let us go through these hard experiences, no matter how bad it hurt Him. We’ll thank Him for leaving us in the midst of our trial. And He’ll tell us that He never actually left.
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