My oldest son is a senior in high school and a prototypical quarterback. He is an athletic 6’4, stands tall in the pocket, and has a beautiful left-handed throw that looks effortless. He throws hard, accurate, commands the huddle, reads the defense, has heart, and is an outstanding leader. Perhaps his best quality is that he is very coachable. In short, I look at him from a coaching perspective and salivate that I would have such a quarterback.
The problem is that he sits the bench behind another quarterback. This drives me nuts. Do I think my kid is better than somebody else’s kid? Are there politics involved? Is the starter 14 months older than my son and should have graduated last year? Am I mad at the coach for making an obviously poor decision? Is this unfair? Unjust? Am I bitter? Well, the answer to all of this is yes.
But this is sports, and in sports, the coach makes the call and somebody starts and somebody sits. It is difficult as a parent, sifting through the emotions of the drama. I have thought a lot about it while watching my kid ride the bench, and all the frustration, heartache, and struggles of the situation comes down to just one thing. And that is, wasted potential.
I look at my son and see potential that has yet to be tapped. I see growth. I see success. He has done everything asked of him, made every sacrifice, and competed at a level high enough to start. His potential is waiting to burst. The emotions of a parent watching their child’s potential stifled on the bench is powerful to say the least. Sometimes lessons are learned through compelling emotions. Heavenly Father certainly teaches us with feelings because He knows that is a profound way to learn, repent, and change.
Some of the most intense lessons Father teaches us is when He allows us to get a glimpse from His perspective. When I learned the story of Abraham and Isaac, it was harsh for me, even though I was a kid. Here was old Abraham, given a precious gift from God. A beautiful son blessed Abraham’s life every day. And yet Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his sweet child. As a father myself, it is positively gut-churning to think about. However, we are blessed through this story to understand a little of what it was like for Heavenly Father to sacrifice His only begotten Son.
Instinctively incensed that my son’s potential is being wasted, I now know how Heavenly Father feels when I sit the bench. He has blessed me with talents and abilities to bless everyone around me. There is no coach sitting me down. I do that myself. There is little standing in my way, and yet too often I choose the easy path rather than the one that will grant me growth.
The 122nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants is revelation directed to Joseph Smith while incarcerated in Liberty Jail. Far be it from me to compare my trials to that of the Prophet Joseph Smith, especially during this time, but the lessons apply to all no matter the magnitude of the situation. In verse seven, it lists several formidable trials we may or may not see during our time here on earth. It then reads, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
How blessed am I to have a son who is going for it, who is out there and getting after it. Although I feel like his potential as a quarterback is being wasted, there is no doubt in my mind that this experience “shall be for thy good.” That is how Heavenly Father works after all. I have another son, blessed with a wonderful talent who has chosen to ignore it. That is far worse. A good quarterback on the bench is unfortunate. But a good quarterback at home is agonizing.
I recently had a moving experience that I have been inspired and prompted to write about. But I don’t. Because I don’t have time, I’m not a good writer, I am afraid of how it will be received, I don’t like calling attention to myself, nobody thinks I am any good at it. Shall I go on? I am neither the quarterback on the field nor the one on the bench. I am the one at home who chose not to exercise a God-given gift and prompting. My talent lies hidden, dormant. I am certain it saddens my Father in Heaven who knows my potential and watches me scrap it.
What talents did Father give you that are currently hidden? What mission, what task, what service, what person did He give you opportunity to engage? At the beginning of this school year, I spoke at a youth fireside regarding this subject. I told the youth to get out of their comfort zone and join clubs, engage in activities, try new things, look for opportunities, ask out that cute girl they have been too shy to approach, and find talents they did not know they had. We tend to look at youth as having the world before them, because they do. But the youth do not have an exclusive on development.
Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks probably never knew many tricks to begin with. Because the moment you feel content with letting your potential lie dormant is the moment you become an old dog. Real growth is out there for everyone regardless of age or circumstance. Have you squashed a talent? Have you ignored a prompting? Is your potential on a different path than the one you are currently on? If so, then let us give thanks to a loving Father in Heaven who gives all He has to those who would receive. Who are you and what potential lies within you? For me, it is time to repent, get myself out of the house and onto the field. What about you?
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