Every once in a while, we experience moments we will remember forever. They become etched in our minds and become a part of who we are.
Yesterday, was one of those days. Jake was playing in his end-of-season basketball tournament for his little club team. It was a long day. They played 4 games starting at 8 o’clock in the morning. The final game finished up around 3:30. If you’re 8 years old, or 42 years old, that makes for a long day. The Mountain Dew and Lunchables from Circle K can only get you so far.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the day would shape up to be one of the best we have ever had. But, you would never think it possible by the way it started.
For a little context, Jake can be a bit of a perfectionist and a huge worry wart. He has a lot of his older brother in him. He loves to win, and hates to lose. He obsesses over, stews about, analyzes and contemplates all the possible outcomes for each game. He constantly worries how he will play, who he will play, and all the “what if’s”. Many of us have likewise experienced cases of these pre-game jitters or “butterflies”. It’s normal to get that uneasy feeling in your gut before a big game, event, or concert.
Jake is a bit different. He gets a severe case of the killer butterflies that cannot be contained within the pediatric limits of his gastric capacity. Sometimes, his killer butterflies spill out and manifest as a major hurdle for him to overcome in the hours before his games. I think his butterflies are above average in size, because he cares about these games in an above average way.
Yesterday was killer butterfly day. They must have multiplied inside as the gravity of the day ahead weighed on him. It was a lot to worry about as it was, a win or go home, single elimination tournament. Luckily, Jake has one of the best known treatments for killer butterflies. A good Mom.
Moms have superpowers. Sometimes they know just how to slay the killer butterflies.
Jake may never tell you this, but what he and his mom did that morning, is what they always do when the butterflies come. They went into a quiet room and knelt down and asked for Heavenly Father’s help. They thanked him for a healthy body to be able to play, and that Jake would be able to do his best and have a good time.
Sometimes all we need is to be close to someone who really knows, and believes in the power God has to change our lives. When we are younger, we naturally depend on our parents to help us understand life and its challenges. They can also teach or show us the best, most effective way we can deal with the difficult stuff that will surely come.
Along with asking for divine help, one of the things that Catie has always taught the kids, is that if they are prepared, there is no reason to fear. This principle applies to their school work, sports, and every other fear in life. I don’t think that she is the only mother who has ever taught this principle.
Jake was prepared. He had spent hours, and hours, and hours outside on our little basketball hoop practicing. His team had spent hours and hours over the last several months practicing together, drilling, shooting, running through plays, and slowly improving, and getting better. His Mom also prepared his mind by taking him time after time after time into that quiet room to pray to slay the butterflies.
In one of our favorite stories about supermoms in the Book of Mormon, we read about the young stripling warriors who had also learned how to be brave, and fight through their killer butterfly moments. In Alma 56 we learn about a life altering choice these 2,000 rookie warriors were faced with. They had to choose whether or not to join a hopeless battle against the seasoned, mature, experienced Lamanite army. Imagine the butterflies during that somber moment when their father figure and military leader Helaman asked them, “
“Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?” -Alma 56:44
As they answered, I’m sure they thought back to many times before when they knelt with their mothers, and thanked Heavenly Father for their healthy bodies, and asked for courage, and help to tackle whichever scary butterfly inducing situation they faced that day. So, they were prepared to answer,
“Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; We do not doubt our mothers knew it.“ -Alma 56:48
I am sure that these young men were not born with the courage they displayed. They likely learned it through shared experiences. This invaluable experience gained chiefly by the help of their Mothers. It was the reason they chose to be courageous. Moms really do have superpowers. Maybe most importantly, they have the power to help shape the hearts of young men.
Yesterday all the physical and mental preparation of the last several months came together for Jake. It was needed as the killer butterflies were in full force for the big day. But, just as each time before, and with the constant help of his Mom, he was able to work through them and play and have some great games.
Jake’s team played well, and fought through each game, one by one, and won each of them leading up to the coveted championship contest.
As the game started and the battle began, all the parents were nervous and screaming and yelling. The coaches’ foreheads and neck veins were bulging as they screamed instructions. Constant noise reverberated through the gym. Our coach was fighting through his lost voice from yelling all day during the previous games. The buildup had been intense. The games were intense. The coaches were intense. The stakes were high, and even the little 8 year olds were focused, and inherently understood how big this game was for them.
As the final game’s battle went on, it was a back and forth struggle filled with bad calls, missed opportunities, and blown assignments that are commonplace to any league with little kids. However, as fate would have it, and like the movie script of the day’s destiny, it came down to the very end.
We could almost hear the soft subtle sound of the theme music from Hoosiers starting to play in the back of our minds, as we glanced up at the scoreboard every few seconds. Time started to slow down as every little moment further built the intensity of the occasion. The clock ticked down to under the final minute or so, as the other team tied the game.
After a scramble over a loose ball led to an inbound play, the drama completed its crescendo. Our team had the final opportunity to win the game with just about 7 seconds left. We had the ball out of bounds and we ran our best sideline inbound play.
The imaginary soundtrack music intensified as the clocked ticked down in each of our heads. The Killer butterflies that Jake had successfully vanquished earlier in the day came roaring back with a vengeance finding new hosts in the churning stomachs of the eager spectators.
Fingernail fragments were flying as nervous nibbles went unchecked. Fists were clenched and blood flow stopped. Jake inbounded the ball to Max as he headed towards the basket. He was met with an immediate double team spoiling any chance of a clear shot. He screeched to a halt as he faced the towering wall of opposition, and reversed course. He quickly looked around for a way out, as hope of victory started to wane.
Time ticked away, Max then noticed Jake. He had worked in behind his drive and was clear of defenders. He instinctively flipped the ball back towards him as the drama peaked. Jake caught the ball, and without hesitation, turned to the basket and let it fly.
The music in our minds climaxed intensely as the ball arced upwards, floated impossibly slow and then hung at its midpoint in the air. Time seemed to stop. Life itself on earth stood still. The stars in the firmament paused their cosmic duties for that moment to witness the outcome. As the ball then resumed its downward trajectory, every eye in the gym was fixed singularly on it. Jake’s shooting arm and hand stayed locked in follow-through position as if willing the ball to find its way through the net. The ball’s gentle backward rotation added to the beauty of the moment, as the parabolic arc finally completed its journey, and the ball lit softly within the welcoming embrace of the nylon net. It was over. We had won. We were the champions.
The deafening roar of parents, onlookers, players waiting for the use of the gym, all joined in the ecstasy of the moment drowning out the closing buzzer. People went nuts. inhibitions were thrown out. Grown men danced like fairies across the hardwood. The disbelief soon gave way to utter joy and complete bliss. The Best Day Ever. It became the moment that Jake, and all of us, will remember forever.
This day will be remembered for the loud shouts, and hollering, the hugging, and screaming, fist bumps and high fives. And it should be. But, it should also be remembered for the quiet little moments before it all began when a good mom, knelt down in a quiet room to help a young man slay the killer butterflies.