Mom, how did you do that?” my daughter asked me a couple months ago as she studied this old photo.
“Practice,” I told her, “And abs. I had really strong abs.”
I ignored her skeptical glare.
The truth is, some days I can hardly believe this myself.
But I was – at that point – fit and, come game time, loud.
Today, I make it a point NOT to raise my voice. And my abs? Well, I exercise, but I’m 45 and have brought 3 kids into the world. They are worth every bit of physical sacrifice, but I don’t wear bikinis anymore.
Way back then, I was a cheerleader, which in theory means we were encouraging others to play to their best abilities.
And whether we were effective at helping the football team win (questionable – but it was SO MUCH FUN!), the fact remains that our role precipitated one we’d all need forever.
Throughout life every person requires cheerleaders in some form. We need individuals who are rooting for us when times are hard and we forget how to summon the strength within ourselves to meet the current challenges.
So who are your cheerleaders?
Last week, I rediscovered a couple of mine when I suffered from a strong bout of anxiety.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, and nervousness, sometimes for no apparent reason, but typically related to an imminent event with an uncertain outcome.
For me, the attack was triggered by the realization that at the writer’s conference I would attend on Saturday (my very first ever), I would show some of my work to editors, who could offer criticism. (The idea that they might also approve of it never factored into my thinking.) Selecting a piece and the idea of having to “sell” my writing to potential publishers filled me with such dread that I sailed right off the ledge of reality and into a pit of fear. I had myself convinced that I had never strung two words together that made a bit of sense, and that I must be a moron for ever having started a blog in the first place.
Thank goodness, I’ve learned that anxiety is not something you entertain, and I called in reinforcements, which arrived in spades in the form of four good friends.
One of them texted with me over two days until my head was in a better place. Here’s just a sample of her words to me:
This brief exchange illustrates how your best cheerleaders: 1) remind you that you can handle the struggle, 2) call forth your truest self, and 3) push you back into the game.
Your cheerleaders should be people who share your values. People who speak the truth about life in a tone that shows their love and concern for you and your welfare. They build up and never tear down. They should focus on what can be done instead of obstacles and limitations. They care about the state of your soul, mind, and body.
My cheerleaders also have these things in common with me: they trust God and have an interest in reading and learning about Scripture; they listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit; and they know that their identity is found not in their accomplishments or worldly assets, but is rooted in Jesus Christ and His unconditional love. If that last bit makes no sense to you, here’s a piece that might help.
As adults we don’t often publicly admit that we have moments of self-doubt, abject panic, and baseless fear, but it does happen. And we need people we can count on who won’t laugh at us or call us cowards.
We need people who will rush in to talk, laugh, cry, and pray with us. We need a loyal team.
So consider – who are your cheerleaders? And who do you cheer for?
Choose your core supporters wisely. And when you need them, don’t be afraid to call them in.
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.” – C.S. Lewis