The Greatest Goal Ever Scored
Recently, while listening to a guided meditation, I was asked to think about a memory that caused me great happiness. My mind ran through some of the celebratory milestones I had experienced in my past: the day my husband asked me to marry him, my wedding day, the birth of my children, getting into the college of my choice, etc. And yet, although these occasions were joy-filled and special, another incident popped into my mind, one that may seem insignificant in comparison, but was, nonetheless, a beautiful and rewarding parenting moment.
Growing up, my daughter, Taylor, had always been open-minded about trying new activities. Throughout her formative year, she did it all: gymnastics, dance, ice skating, tennis, soccer, ski racing, softball, basketball, lacrosse, art classes, and music lessons. Some of these activities lasted a few years, others a few months. But no matter what she chose to do, she did it with a wide smile and a happy-go-lucky attitude.
Lacrosse was the one sport Taylor stuck with the longest. She had great hand-eye coordination, but she lacked the inner aggressiveness, or what I like to call a “fire in her belly” that made her stand out and dominate on the field. As far as I was concerned, none of that mattered. She was having fun, which, at the time, was more important.
By seventh grade, the level of lacrosse competition had increased, and that was when everything had changed.
After lacrosse practice one afternoon, Taylor hopped into my car hysterically crying. Through a fit of tears, she told me that none of her teammates were passing the ball to her, even when she was wide open. Despite having played the sport for nearly six years, longer than most of the girls on her team, she had never once scored a goal. And her friends on the team were crushing her confidence, making her believe she wasn’t a good player.
My heart broke for her. I suggested she go outside every day and practice on her own. She said she would, but my advice wasn’t helping her feel good about herself in that moment. So, I made another suggestion: I told her to write a letter to herself, in the past tense, describing her perfect lacrosse season, giving details about the type of player she imagined she was. That night, she wrote her letter in private, put it away, and forgot about it.
As the months passed, Taylor worked harder, practiced more, and gave it her all on the field. But she still wasn’t a starting player and she wasn’t scoring any goals.
The last tournament of the season, Taylor’s team made it to the championship round. But since Taylor wasn’t getting that much playing time, I was secretly hoping they would lose in the elimination round, so I could start the three-hour drive back home. With only five minutes left in the game, Taylor’s team was down by one goal, and her coach subbed her in. I was praying she would play well, while simultaneously watching the clock on the scoreboard.
Out of nowhere, Taylor scooped up a ground ball on the defensive side, charged down the field dodging her opponents, and shot the ball into the upper left corner of the goal—and scored. My girl, the underdog, tied the game. I screamed. I cried. I clapped. I cheered. I jumped up and down like a lunatic.
In the final sixty seconds, the other team scored, and won the game. I, of course, didn’t care about that. I had just witnessed a real-life scene that could’ve been stolen out of the movie, Rudy. In my mind, Taylor had the greatest goal of all time.
On the drive home, after calling our family members to share the exciting news, Taylor reminded me of the letter she wrote to herself in the beginning of the season. She said she had described the goal-scoring scenario exactly the way it happened, adding how proud her parents and teammates were of her. Hearing this, chills ran down my spine. The only difference in the letter was that she was an all-star player throughout the entire season, rather than in the last few minutes of the final game.
I am blessed for having had so many wonderful celebrations in my lifetime, and I look forward to having many more. But there was something about the goal Taylor scored that day that stood out in my mind as a different kind of blessing. It was unexpected and miraculous and appeared to be manifested through my daughter’s imagination.
This was also about believing in oneself, never giving up, and rising above setbacks. The stories we tell ourselves, literally and figuratively, can be written and rewritten as many times as we desire––and our words serve as powerful tools that have the potential to make our dreams come to fruition.