Serve, Don’t Take

I learned a valuable lesson from my oldest daughter, Aubrey. She chose to serve others through a situation where she did not get, individually, what she wanted. 

Here’s the full story:

My 13yo has been swimming since she was 8 years old. Nearly 6 years of cold evenings, early start-times and drying off with wet towels. (Swimming is literally the worst sport to have a kid in - if she does her job well, she’ll be in the pool less than 3 minutes a meet. Not the point of this article. But still, true.)

This is her last year swimming in middle school before moving to the High School team. The last year to make the coveted ‘Junior 1’ team. When placements were made this year, she didn’t make the coveted team, she was placed on the same team she’s been on for the last two years. Junior 2. 

My oldest, achiever, life-is-a-meritocracy kid was crushed. She was one of only three 8th-graders not on the Junior 1 team. There was a moment where I could tell the embarrassment of it made her want to stop swimming altogether. 

 Two weeks later (and only two weeks into the season), I picked her up from practice and asked, “How was practice today?”

‘Great mom. The coach asked if anyone on the team knew everyone’s name, and I got them all right on the first try.’

What?! Come again?? The team you didn’t want to be on. The team that you were disappointed to swim with. You took the time to learn their names?

Yep, I remember thinking it was cool when I was young when the 8th graders knew my name. So I learned them.’ 

So instead of wallowing in what you didn’t get; you chose to serve the team. You chose to make this situation about how you could be better for others. You chose to figure out how you could make the experience better for those younger than you. You chose to serve and not take. You chose to put the attention on others and not your own gain. 

‘Yep, I guess so.’ 

How many times have we been embarrassed to show up because we didn’t get what we wanted? How many times have we put a half-effort forward to pretend not to care about the outcome because we didn’t have the control we wanted? How many times did we take the air out of the room in a grown-up tantrum instead of leading the room by giving of ourselves with no expectation in return? How many times did we choose our own pity party instead of loving those around us? 


I was challenged by my daughter’s reaction. Challenged to be better when I don’t get what I want. 

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