Because when you pray to God, you are also praying to the Holy Spirit who is living inside your husband. I promise, it/he/she/that spirit will do a much better job of leading him than your frustration ever will.
You do not have to do this coaches’ wife thing alone. There are many who have walked before you, and there are many who walk alongside your journey. Embrace your title; it’s part of your calling.
That’s the beautiful thing about dreams and plans.
God knows our hearts, and he knows what is best for us. He knows that while some of us thrive in structure, our lists can also create false permission to establish boundaries and limit ourselves where more significant opportunities are possible.
“I don’t want you to help me! NO! NO! Don’t touch it!” she screamed as she aggressively jammed the “outie” part of the zipper against the “innie” part of the zipper over and over and over again to no avail.
“Charlee, we have to go. Let’s make a good choice. Would you rather get frustrated and cry or just ask Mommy for help?”
No response as she repeatedly attempted to “DO IT ALL BY MYSEE–EE–LLLL–FF!”
Five minutes later I gathered her limp body off of the living room floor, exhausted from the sobs and the tireless slamming of the jacket against the wall. She had clearly chosen to “get frustrated and cry” as opposed to the alternative, “ask for help.”
Sadly, she gets this from her mother.
I recalled a few months earlier when I had also had my very own “zipper moment.” I had been checking my watch every 38 seconds to see if Clark’s practice was over yet only to realize he wouldn’t be home for 4 hours and 38, no, 37 minutes. Will we all still be alive by then? I could make no such promise. Hattie was 5-months-old and Charlee was 22-months-old and I was done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually DONE.
Charlee was in her room throwing a fit while I sat on the foot of the guest bed holding the littlest one. She was crying, yet again. I was bouncing up and down like a rabbit on 5-Hour-Energy, trying breathlessly to control my aggression, hoping not to approach the threshold for Shaken Baby Syndrome. As I bounced, I remember audibly repeating, “Please. Stop. Crying. Please. Stop. Crying.” Maybe one out of the three of us would listen.
Then my phone rang. It was Clark.
“Hey Babe, I’m gonna be late today.”
I couldn’t get a word out of my throat. I felt a huge knot form and before I could stop he could hear the sobs from the other end of the line. “O…. kay….”
“Has it been a bad day?”
Um. No. It’s been fan-freakin-tastic. Can you hear the two of them? They’re screaming because we’re all having so much fun playing Candy Land and creating educational crafts.
“Call your mom. Tell her to come over. She would love to help you.”
“No seriously. Call her. I’ll leave as soon as I can.”
“O… kay… Bye.”
Ten minutes later my phone rang. This time it was my mom.
“Hey, how ya doing? Clark called and said you might want some help. I’m on my way over right now.”
My husband knows me way too well. He knows my independent, I-CAN-DO-IT-ALL-BY-MYSELF heart would never surrender and actually ask for help. I don’t need help. I am perfectly capable of handling this motherhood thing on my own, thank you very much. I got myself into this gig and I can get myself through it with my teeth gritted and my fists clenched.
I knew my resistance had a lot more to do with pride than I cared to admit. God began to show me that asking for help isn’t a show of weakness but in fact the ultimate sign of strength and humility, the admission that I am not God and I was not created to do this alone.
It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to admit that today has sucked. Hard. It’s okay to need a second to come up for air every now and then. And it’s even okay to call your mom to rescue you… when you’re a grown woman.
In Exodus 17, Moses has just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. But while traveling they are attacked by the Amalekites and forced into battle. Moses, in his old age, heads to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur while Joshua chooses the strongest men to go down to the battlefield.
Moses raises his staff as his men fight in an appeal to God for help and enablement. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning” (Ex. 17:11). Moses is old and tired. An entire battle is a long time to keep your hands raised up in the air. Thankfully, he has help. Verse 12 says, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”
I also feel old and tired most days. I also feel like there is a battle raging under my roof most days. And I also, like Moses, can see a difference in the outcome of my battle when I hold up my hands in surrender, in an admission that I can’t do this on my own. Sadly, my arms get tired pretty quickly.
God knew they would. He didn’t create me or Moses or you to hold up our hands on our own. He never expected us to fight our battles in isolation.
But I am not Moses. And I lack the humility to admit that I need someone else to bring me a rock to sit on or someone to prop up my hands. So I just watch my army go down in flames because I am too prideful to admit that I need reinforcements.
I need encouragement.
I need validation.
I need coffee.
I need help.
I have plenty of Aarons and Hurs that are willing to prop up my hands and pull up a rock. And so do you.
It’s just a matter of asking.
It was there, with my metaphorical house stripped to bare studs, that I realized I had built it with all the wrong things.
I started over with the basics, faith became the groundwork on which everything was rebuilt. Finding a church community and reading God’s Word was the first step.
From there, I began to realize how grace (grace for coach, this lifestyle, and most importantly myself) was necessary as the support beams. It allowed me to have the patience I needed to get through the day, the season, the storm.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when I feel alone and unknown.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when the unwanted diagnosis appears.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when Coach’s contract is not renewed.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when there is no heartbeat.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when your closest friend is unfaithful.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when they curse your name from the sidelines.
I pray he remembers he has a wife who has his back (sometime maybe too much), no matter what. I am strong enough to be a coach’s wife.
Then, on a Saturday in October, which started like any other day, I drove about an hour away with my mom to watch a couple of coach’s scrimmages. Because of the set up of the scrimmage, we were allowed to watch from the sidelines. And that’s where I finally learned the lesson that I was not in control. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I planned, nothing was a given.
I’ve come to the conclusion that coaches' wives who develop 4 characteristics—patience, perspective, perseverance, and peace—end up being able to walk through this life with a little more determination and ease.
Just like our brother Jonah, we go places we're not supposed to go because we're human and want to do our own thing. Discernment and wisdom are of God, and when we feel anxious about a move, it can be fear of the unknown OR it can be divine insight.
My coach’s wife story is one of consistently never being where I wanted or thought I should be, but always being where I needed to be. After 16 years in the coaching life, I can 100% guarantee that the "what ifs" aren’t worth anything.
So if my peace is dependent upon my own performance, my own success, my own character, my own children, my own circumstances, then I will NEVER FIND IT. Because none of those things will ever be up to par. None of those things will ever feel ENOUGH.
We don’t have TIME for this struggle, too. It’s so isolating. It’s hard to find time to talk to coach about it—our schedules rarely sync enough for more than goodnight hugs and kisses. In the isolation our worries grow bigger.
I’m not sure there’s anyone who struggles with the “what might have been” mentality more than a coach (can I get an AMEN?!). It sometimes tortures them. Day and night. In and out of season.
And golly does my husband have it bad. Like real bad. Sometimes before bed we still mull over the year he had that seven-footer move in on his basketball team and had to sit him because he wouldn’t come to practice.
“You know how bad we could have beat that team? Hillary, he can dunk it with his feet flat on the court. And I can’t play him.”
Most coaches can spend the majority of their days thinking and conversing about all things sports. At work, church, birthday parties, and even weddings. I always catch my man in a corner discussing the previous or upcoming season with someone. And I get it! It’s the same way we women are with our babies, that awesome new lipstick, and the new Walmart grocery pickup option. (Isn’t that amazing for all you busy ladies!? With lots of young’uns?!)
So my man is something else (at least we think so). He’s a teacher, multiple sport coach, and Doctoral graduate from the UofA. He juggles a very busy schedule and somehow still is oh-so-present in our home with our three boys.
HOWEVER. This guy can’t remember that I asked him to pick up a box of diapers or that those cookies are not for him (as he devours his fifth one). We have a wall calendar visible to all, and for some reason he still forgets the party is at 2:00 and finds himself on the lawn mower instead.
But let’s sit down and relive the State Basketball Championship of ‘97. He can vividly remember who touched the ball and at what second of the game. He can mentally account for every pass, every basket, and every game-changing foul. And if “so and so” didn’t have the flu, “we could have won that game!”
So at some point in the season, sometimes multiple times, we have these heartbreaking conversations.
“If so and so wouldn’t have moved.”
“If ‘ol boy wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.”
And of course, “If my starting (insert very important position) wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”
I think every team struggles with this at some time in a season, and every coach agonizes over it in their career. It’s the inevitable. Something unknown to them will inadvertently damage that hopeful chance at a ‘ship that they just knew was gonna happen.
And it stings. The decisions that coaches have to make can be a heavy burden to carry, and sometimes the cost seems great. The “what might have been” can slowly steal their hope for the sweet victories just ahead. But I believe these situations can teach our men, and even us, to trust in our God who loves to show us how He is always working for our good!
“What ifs” can sometimes wear a deceptive disguise and tend to come in the form of many distractions. Those hardships within the journey are unavoidable, and it’s easy to fall victim to the disruption it brings to our mission.
Remembering past experiences is crucial to moving forward, and we should always consider what those encounters can offer our future. But we have to be willing to continue following our path boldly without the worry of things out of our control.
So in our home, and in this season of life, we are striving to have a “What Will Be” frame of mind.
We want to remind ourselves where we’ve been, in hopes of finding a concentrated focus on the favorable things ahead. As I look back over the many years of our life, both personal and professional, I am in awe of how God used our sometimes-devastating situations to bring us to a place of such beauty in Him. Years of loss and heartbreak turned into four beautiful sons, three of our own flesh and one “adopted.”
Job and coaching changes that brought about such risk, resulted in some of our sweetest memories and friendships.
God has always, oh-so-faithfully, made beauty of the things we thought to be our biggest source of bitterness.
So cheers to many seasons of taking those situations that our coaches beat themselves up over and encouraging their hearts to heed the lesson it may teach. And here’s to hoping they can embrace the circumstances of each uncertainty and roll through those gut punches.
Pray those obstacles that sometimes crush the spirit of your coach and his players will quickly bring them to a place of deep understanding in Him and the bigger story He is creating. Because when your will is to seek HIM in ALL things, the echo of your heart has the power to alter the lives of those you encounter, both present and future.
And believing that the “what might have been’s” that seem to linger in their minds, will be transformed into “Remember what God did in the midst of.” Your journey is unique and special. Remember that always.
You see, we are the fans in the stands. We are the ones questioning every play, screaming that the one in charge must not know what He's doing. We are the ones not trusting the process.
Your husband has been fired and where in the world is God?
He was there three weeks ago when my girlfriend insisted that I meet her. She told me about the BIOY (Bible in One Year) app that I would need to cling to. Every single day there has been a nugget of truth I’ve been able to cling to. The day of the reassignment it read, “Relax and let God be God.”
He was there when my husband was reassigned and one week later we closed on a house that we were way over our head in. The house had been on the market for 2 years!
He was there over the past two years that we have had a renter and not one thing has happened that needed a repair.
He was there when the inspection on the sale of our house didn’t call for a single repair.
He was there when my office is off-site of the admin building even though I technically work there. He knew I wouldn’t be able to handle that.
He was there when He put a coworker in my life who is a fellow coach’s wife.
He was there when I finally let my husband have it because there were some things that just “needed to be said.” I had pent them up because I never want to add more damage in the storm. Nonetheless, certain things have to be said when storms are raging.
He was there when on the day my husband’s replacement was named, a job came open in the town I’d been praying we would move to.
He was there when my sister showed up with pie and brightened the whole weekend. Pie makes everything better!
The pain is there. The hurt is there. The uncertainty is there. The shock is there. The embarrassment is there. I would be a lying fool if I acted like it isn’t.
But He is there too, just like he said he would be and just like he has always been. I just have to make sure I’m looking.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Genesis 50:20
In trying to scrap up their first win, there were sooooo many long nights of stress, of games, of practices, trying to get a little closer to the goal. Sometimes, even sacrificing his “home team” for more scouting, more film, more scheming. Something. Anything to get over the hump.
Sometimes I wonder if God has a special place in His heart for coaches' wives. Knowing full well how forgotten and lonely we would feel at times, maybe God’s story of redemption and rescue was meant to speak especially to our hearts.
The season ends and results are tallied. Maybe you have achieved your goals, maybe not. It is over, so now what? Were you who they expected you to be? Did you make yourself and others proud? The focus has already shifted toward the players for next season so did this one really matter? Yes, because YOU matter! You matter on and off the field.
I had parked myself right in front of a broken cistern. I'd fill it up, but all my joy and peace and compassion still seeped through the crevices and cracks, until it was once again empty. I would fill my tank up and only get a mile down the road before I was out of gas again. I wasn't filling it with living water; I was filling it with muck, sludge, and junk. It was broken. I was broken.