She was at the front of the team lineup. All the other little girls and boys were pumped for soccer, but she was biting back tears. Her coach waved to me and asked if I could take her to her mom.
This wasn’t the morning I had anticipated.
I hadn’t planned to be standby-supervision for the PE class, but I didn’t have anything better to do. So I walked up to the girl in the purple jacket and put my arm around her.
“Hey,” I said, smiling as we walked outside the soccer zone. “What’s your name?”
“Camille*,” she responded, brushing the soft, fresh tears across her face.
“Camille, what’s wrong?”
“I’m just nervous, I guess.”
Sensing a familiar hesitancy in her young voice, I slowed down. I began to realize that she didn’t actually need to see her mother, she just needed a friend. So we plopped down in the grass and chatted while I strung dandelions into a chain. She admitted that she really did like soccer–even that she felt good at it–but was intimidated by the larger group setting.
“Do you feel like everybody is better than you?” I asked gently.
“Yeah,” she breathed.
“Camille, how old are you?” She said she was ten, and I told her I remembered PE class when I was her age. I told her I was always afraid of not being good enough, so then I would never try…and thus, I never would become good at it. She nodded quickly and said she was the same way. When she also confessed to her fear of getting hurt, I told her I understood completely. I asked her what she enjoyed doing, and she said she liked soccer–and that she really loved running, too.
Familiar childhood fears crept up my neck.
“You know, I never thought I was good at running,” I said. “I always let Satan tell me I just couldn’t do it. But you know what? That’s not what God says. He says that anything is possible with Jesus.” Camille smiled and nodded.
Our conversation became less theological and more lighthearted, as I learned we both like purple and yellow, and she swam with dolphins once, and I have four earrings. Eventually she let the coach coax her back into the soccer game, and by golly she played her best.
Oh, the things I wish I’d known at ten: that life wasn’t as scary as “what the big kids thought” and that through Jesus, anything is possible.
Dear little ten-year-old self…your God is so much bigger than you know right now.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13