bittersweet: lean into the pain.

as i have time to really think over the experience i had on sunday,
with my two sons competing against each other in their very first tournament...i have thoughts.

it was one of the most heart wrenching times of my parenting career, so far.
now for those of you who have had children get sick, or more serious life threatening things happen, you might think i'm silly.
but i can only share what my experience has been in this life.
and this day was very emotional.
the large hall was PACKED with hundreds of people and the tension and competition was high.
we had to squeeze to find out where we were supposed to be and then sort of stressfully keep our three kids together as people pushed all around us.

the boys each won their first round against their peers and as people were eliminated there were fewer options to be paired with.
when they called each of my boys name for the same match, all the parents started looking at each other nervously.
(they are both named reed?)
(are they brothers?)
i looked at the boys' sensei, who was standing on the sidelines, to see if there was anything he could do, but as the leaders looked at the names they realized there was nothing left but to put my sons together to spar.
Jake looked around.
Ty jumped up and down, ready to run at his brother.
Reedo called Jake's name and gave him the warning "you better have super control over yourself" look.
so did i.
so did his sensei.
and then, on command, they just went for it.
ty is fearless.
he just runs at people.
and he did.
he fought hard.
jake controlled himself.
ty got a punch to the head that sent him flying and he popped right back up.
but the emotion was just so high the whole....3 minutes that it took for Jake to win.
by the time the last point was called, ty was ripping off his helmet and leaping into my arms with tears in his eyes.
he was not hurt.
he was just so tense.
his body was wrapped around mine and he began to cry, as Jake was being ushered over to the "winner" area.
one of my sons was winning and the other was losing to his big brother.

now, some may be thinking that i should not put my kids in this position.
and part of me wants to agree.
i mean, eliminating this experience would've been easier for everyone.
but, as it think back, easy might not be the best way on this one.
my boys, who play legos, together, all day and who sleep in the same bunk bed every night, had to learn how to accept the outcome of this situation.
ty was disappointed.
but he will most likely be disappointed again, in his life.
what if this is in preparation for other things that happen in Ty Reed's story?
things that he may need the skill of overcoming disappointment for?
what if this is Jake's opportunity to learn how to win gracefully and still figure out how to be encouraging to his brother?
what if he needs an opportunity to learn humility as a winner?
what if he needs that one day for something bigger??
i can't keep these hard experiences from these boys (that will be men someday).

and as for me, it gave me an incredible TEEEEENY tiny peek into how the Lord must feel when he allows sorrow for our own good.
Our father must feel so torn when he sees pain inflicted on us, his little children, and knows that it will draw us closer to him with each hard experience.
he allows some of us to have things that others don't, and others to have things that i'll not get to experience.
bitter sweet.
the difference is, that HE sees the whole story
how long will we fight against His, well thought out, loving, kind path until we surrender?
how long will i be afraid of His story to unfold in my life?
do i need to be able to stop and realize that the thing i thought i wanted wasn't really best for me?
that my father knew that, all along, and that i can just lean back on his strong arms and trust His ideas.
whether it hurts or not.
it goes against what some may think is common sense.
leaning into pain, instead of avoiding it at any cost.
but, its for my good.
and for HIS good.

i pray that these boys learn to look to their heavenly father for courage and purpose and their life story.



  1. this is such a great story. i had never really thought of what it must be like for God to watch two of his children that are very close learn to be gracious, encouraging, and humble while one is winning and the other is not.

  2. poor little tiny had to fight big bad jake :) i miss those boys, they are so lucky to have each other, and you as their mama. xo

  3. great story!
    great experience in the end.
    you all learned something and I think it's so great that you can see that
    for what it is, so close to the doing of it~!
    good job mama!
    your boys will be GREAT men one day!

  4. oh my... i can't imagine how hard that must have been.
    seeing your sweet boys go head to head.
    oh dear!
    sometimes you do have to allow the tough stuff to happen...
    watching from the sidelines.
    it's a part of growing up.
    i think you made the right choice, however dang hard it was.
    it's a life lesson... that ty will learn and glean from.
    and jake will learn some stuff too.
    good for you, mama!
    keep encouraging those boys into strong Godly men...
    i need them for my little girls! ;)

  5. great thoughts, friend.
    thank you so much for sharing.

  6. I'm not sure why but this made me cry! Especially that line right above the sweet picture of you & your boys. "i can't keep these hard experiences from these boys (that will be men someday)" So true! We are promised adversity in this life. What a better way to learn to face it than when Mama is right there to make it better! You're growing those boys into men of God and it sounds to me like you're doing a good job!

  7. what an amazing lesson and picture of the awesome love our Heavenly Father has for us.
    love that you leaned into it and shared it with us.
    what a beautiful thing.

  8. i am a crying mess over here.
    between the words and that emotional song ....geez.
    you have got it right mrs. reed.

  9. totally made me cry, youre my favorite

  10. nope, you are not silly at all. i am guessing it was way harder on you than it was on the boy-although it sounds like it was tough for them too but watching from the sidelines does not sound fun to me at all. BUT, that being said, i totally think i agree with you, it is so fundamental as the mom to want to protect them from everything-to shield them and make things easier for them but that would deprive them of learning experiences like this. you are such a good mom and the Reed kids are so lucky you are theirs.

  11. Good post honey...it was a tough day. love you

  12. My heart is bleeding for you, for your boys, for you all.
    What great insight.
    Someday your boys will appreciate this post.

  13. this is bittersweet indeed. i just love you!! so grateful for your perspective and encouragement xo

  14. What an insightful and wise post. Thanks Shauna. The whole post - just wow. The end - well, I really needed those words.