Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother… John 19:25
Mason was in Destination Imagination (DI) this year. DI is an international program that puts kids into teams that use creativity, drama, team-work, and ingenuity to solve problems that are presented to them each week throughout the year, and finally in a competitive environment in the spring. The key component is that neither coaches, parents, nor any other adult can help them. They even have a term for this, and we all had to sign a contract at the beginning of the year saying that we would not “interfere.” It’s for the kids themselves to figure everything out on their own.
Last Saturday was the Regional Competition at Sanborn High School. This was where they showcased their Team Challenge: the problem they had worked on all year. They were also presented with an Instant Challenge: a new problem/scenario that they had to solve in the moment, and present on, in eight minutes or less.
Having been down this path before with Zack, I knew it would be a whole day affair: we’d leave the house at 7:30 a.m., and wouldn’t return until 6:30 p.m. However, I was so excited to have a whole day with just Mason, I didn’t care. As a mom of three kids, it isn’t often that I get to devote a whole day to just one of them. So I packed food, drinks, and lots of card and travel games to occupy us during the down time.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, but most of the other kids there had brought along electronics for their down time. My card and travel games engaged Mason for all of three minutes before he was asking if he could watch the other kids play their “screens” instead. I have to admit, I was disappointed. But the day was supposed to be all about Mason. So I needed to let him decide how it would play out. Consequently, what I thought would be a day full of quality mom and son time turned into Mason playing screens with his friends, and me chit-chatting with their parents.
But my little eight-year-old has a heart the size of Texas. At least three or four times during the day, he left his little circle of friends to come hug me and say sweet things like, “I love that I have you all to myself,” “I love our just you-and-me day today,” etc. Okay – the day wasn’t turning out exactly the way I had envisioned it, but at least Mason understood that I was there for him, just him, all day long.
One of my Lenten goals this year was to journey with Jesus through His Passion and Crucifixion to better understand what He went through for us. As only God can choreograph these things, the night of the same exact day that I made this my goal, my cousin Jean told me that she pictures herself in the crowd at different points in Jesus’ journey to Calvary. The second she said it, I knew this was the approach that would help me to fulfill my goal, and enrich my Lent.
Today, in my prayer time, I did just that. I put myself at different points along His path. Each time I saw Him, I saw His mother Mary too: in the crowd, at the foot of the cross.
Of course I’ve always known that Mary was there for Jesus, but suddenly I understood it all at a much deeper level. The spiritual side of Jesus needed His Heavenly Father to be there, but the early side of Jesus needed His earthly mother there to help Him endure it all. There was absolutely nothing Mary could do to stop how the events unfolded. She wasn’t allowed to “interfere.” All she could do was be there for Him. But there is such power in “just being there,” and Mary knew that. She was there to show Jesus that her love was so deep, that no matter how painful it was to watch Him suffer, she would never leave Him.
It turns out that Mason’s team didn’t do very well. The presentation they had worked on all year was also a timed event. I knew that they were taking too much time setting up their scenery and placing props, but there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop how the events unfolded. I wasn’t allowed to “interfere.” All I could do was be there. It was so painful to watch their faces fall when the timer buzzed before they could complete their skit. After working their hearts out all year, that damned buzzer crushed their little spirits in one second flat.
Mason’s heart is huge, but it is also very fragile. He can cry over the least little disappointment. Yet I was so surprised when he kept it together as his other teammates lost it.
As I came down from the bleachers to hug him, he asked, “How do you think I did?” I told him just how amazing he was, how great he did, and how proud I was of him. As the other kids continued to cry, my Mason smiled.
Sometimes, as moms, we can feel so powerless as things unfold in our kids’ lives that we can do absolutely nothing about. But Mary, and my experience at Mason’s DI performance, taught me to never underestimate the power of “just being there.”
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