She put her whole heart in playing basketball, and I loved seeing it. This usually soft-spoken eight-year-old shouted, “Go!” when throwing the ball in for drills. She’d jump and wave her hands while screaming “Outlet!” There were times she seemed to come from nowhere and knock the ball from the other team’s hand. It was a side of her that made me smile.
Then, there was the last practice, when the team lined up for a game of knockout. She was the only one cheering on each girl. “You got it, Leila!” or “Good job!” she’d say clapping. I stood on the sideline with a smile.
At the end of the season party, the coaches handed out trophies. They came up with a nickname for each girl like Referee, Defender, or Shooter. When the coach got to her, his eyes brightened as he tossed his head back with a chuckle. He said, “This girl made me smile.” He talked about how she encouraged everyone and made them happier. The nickname they chose for her was Heart, because she was the heart of the team.
I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes.
My little girl isn’t perfect. Sometimes she gets angry with her brother. Sometimes she complains about schoolwork or chores. She gets frustrated, wants to give up, and cries. She’s human, like each of us.
It isn’t these things that make her who she is. And these aren’t the words I’d use to describe her. Beyond the struggles, I see her heart. She’s growing, and it makes me smile.
I wonder, could this be how God sees us in Christ? Maybe in our growing, we make Him smile.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)