Laughter echoed throughout the gym. Just great, another ball slipped past me. I’m way out of practice. I’ll never be as good as the other girls.
What a way to start a high school career – a failure and a laughingstock at the sport I loved. What would I do if I couldn’t play volleyball? I wasn’t good at anything else.
That first day of summer volleyball camp was agony. The coaches teamed me up with three girls who hadn’t even played in eighth grade. Developing new skills would be an impossibility at this rate.
Day 2 of Torture Camp arrived too early. I was exhausted and couldn’t see how this had been a good idea. Not wanting to waste my parent’s hard earned money, I forced myself to get up at 6:30 a.m., fix breakfast, and wait in the car for my mom to drive me to the high school.
Despite all my mom’s attempts at her normal morning humor, I remained tight-lipped and unshakeable. By the time we arrived in the high school parking lot, I was near tears. I was not going back in there for another day of humiliation—no way.
Then my mom did the unthinkable – she made me close my eyes and she prayed for me. Sheesh – something about God’s promises being new every morning. It wouldn’t make any difference. I knew better.
“Kate, you just have to ignore those girls.”
”That’s easy for you to say.”
“Okay, I know sweetheart, but you can’t worry about what they think. You have to focus on why you wanted to go to camp in the first place—improving your game and getting to play in high school.”
“I’ll never get to play. I’m not good enough.”
My mom’s eyes rolled. I could feel her frustration oozing from every pore. “Well, you won’t with that kind of attitude,” she shot back in characteristic style.
I’d had enough. My best friend, Annie, passing by on her way into the building provided my escape clause. “Annie, wait up. I’m comin’.”
Day 2 played out much the same as the first, culminating in a losing streak on the courts for my city league team. A perfect ending to a less-than-perfect day. Typical.
On the way home that night, squeezed into my dad’s pick up truck, my mom and dad competed over who could cheer me up the best. Despite the fact that we hadn’t had dinner yet, my dad promised to go outside and practice with me.
Day 3 at Torture Camp, went a little better, despite the fact the coaches were training us to serve in a brand new way. Man, sometimes I felt like I didn’t know anything about volleyball. And, to top it off, every muscle in my body was screaming from overwork. Even that silly girl, Ashley, was still tormenting me with the crazy notion that she could play better than anyone else.
Day 4, the coaches moved me up a few notches on the food chain. Maybe Mom’s prayer did some good after all. Or maybe it was Dad’s extra help and encouragement. Somehow I knew now I’d make it through one way or another.
That night after I got home, Mom asked how things went.
“Okay, I guess,” with my characteristic mumble. I’d gotten it down to a science.
“What, Kate? I can’t hear you. I wish you’d speak clearly. Are things better?”
I just shrugged my shoulders and clomped upstairs to my room. I was beat. Just needed some down time away from the family unit.
Taking a hot shower relieved my aching muscles and afterward I collapsed on my bed. My eyes flitted around the room, finally resting on a cheerful yellow ceramic plague across the room. It read: “Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. I Peter 5:7”
A tiny smile crept across my heart. There was another reminder of God’s love, thanks to my Mom. She had made me memorize that verse because fear and worry were my closest friends.
Flopping over onto my stomach, I hung off the bed and reached for my Bible. I turned to I Peter and read Chapter 5 again. My mind lingered on verse 10 as I read that Christ would perfect and strengthen me after I had suffered for a little while. Rolling back over to my back, my mind tried to absorb what I’d read.
Maybe God could replace fear and worry as my new best friend.
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