My twelve-year-old son is a basketball player. He has been playing since he was five or six years old. Over the years he has played baseball, football, and basketball. He is decent in football, but he had very natural skill and talent when it came to baseball. It seemed to come easy to him, he didn’t need a lot of coaching or me yelling from the stands, he just seemed to not only know what to do, but he could actually do it! Even with all that natural baseball IQ and skill, he loved basketball and preferred it to baseball. What’s even more ironic, he was awful at basketball. I mean almost embarrassing for me as a parent seeing him clueless on the court. I had a conversation with him about focusing on baseball instead of basketball, but he was determined to get better.

We did family vision boards and my son mapped out his life of basketball. He would play college basketball, go pro, retire and open a community center where he will coach and train young kids in basketball. He had a vision! I saw his passion for the game and decided to do everything in my power to help him. I took him to skill clinics, purchased a basketball goal for him to practice at home, and took him to open gym whenever I could. I looked for more and more opportunities to help him to grow and he did! His skills developed to the point that many coaches recognized it and actually requested him for their team.

Now it would seem the story would stop there, but there is much more to playing basketball than having a great skill set. As with anything else, regardless whether they’re natural or developed, skill and talent will only take you so far. Your character must also be developed. Without strong character to match skills, you will fall short in reaching your full potential. With all the growth my son had experienced, he had grown comfortable and even a little cocky with the game and his abilities. My husband and I noticed that he seemed to have an “on and off” switch. Meaning sometimes he would turn “On” and play hard and other times he would only do the minimum and seem to be indifferent. We also noticed he had developed a horrible “On the court” attitude. He would scowl at the referee’s calls, other players, or even his coaches. Now we already knew he needed an attitude adjustment, this was not new to us when it came to his character at home and even in school, but he had never displayed these traits on the basketball court. He had gotten too comfortable with the game.

There was a point in time when he was actively playing on three teams at a time, but his drive, passion, and hunger for the game were beginning to take a nosedive. At first, my husband and I thought maybe he needed more skill training. We couldn’t understand why he would play street ball and do amazing tricks and play at 100 percent then get into an official game on the basketball court and jog, not even attempt rebounds, and miss fifty percent of his shots. We began to have conversations with him about “going hard,” “leaving it all on the court,” and all the other clichés you hear about playing your best, but all he did was make excuses for his behaviors.

I remember a conversation my husband and I had, sitting outside in my car during one of his practices. We had signed him up with a new team. A decision we had made in order to take him out of his comfort zone, as well as put him in contact with a coach who would push him harder, and put him with a group of boys who were all either on or above his skill level- we hoped he would ride the bench more therefore have to earn his play time instead of it being handed to him. I was reflecting on how much potential our son had, how great he could really be, and even all the open doors and opportunities that were being given to him yet how little he seemed to realize the value of what he has been given and his resistance to taking advantage of it all. I said to my husband, “I wonder if God feels the same way about us.” I wonder if He is using this to not only prepare our son but to also prepare and get a message across to us. As parents we can see things in our children that they cannot. We can see their potential and we can also see the traits in them that work against them reaching their full potential. We want to help them overcome those traits, but what if we are doing the exact same thing? What if God is also showing us the traits we need to outgrow and overcome, in the midst of all the opportunities He has placed before us. What if we are being resistant to the process of preparation? What if our character does not match up with our potential?

My son’s team motto is: “EMBRACE THE PROCESS.” When I first heard it I thought:

Ok, it’s a new team so “Embrace the process” just means there may be some learning bumps, some trial and error, and some recalibrating that may have to be done. So, it’s kind of like a disclaimer: “Don’t get mad y’all be patient with us.”

I’m a little tickled and in awe at the same time of how God has taken that motto and driven it home with my family and me. There were two distinct moments when I was praying to God about how to handle a situation and I heard that motto, “EMBRACE THE PROCESS.” But honestly, that’s just it; we don’t LIKE to embrace the process! As a matter of fact, WE DON’T LIKE PROCESS at ALL. We want quick and easy results. We don’t want to experience the process of seed, time, and then harvest. We just want the fruit! But God does not give us anything that we have not allowed Him to prepare us to receive. God may very well take us through a hard place, or a few hard places, in order to prepare us for the vision. Don’t grow weary in the preparation. Even when I committed to the process, I still found myself thinking, “This is too much, this is too hard, I can’t handle all of this” and even some times thinking, “What’s the point of all of this?” T