Taken from: Be the Sunshine. Text copyright © 2013 by Angela Thomas. Artwork copyright © 2013 by Christine Adolph. Published by Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, Oregon. www.harvesthousepublishers.com . Used by Permission. Not to be reproduced.
I am a soccer mom. Bona fide. I have soccer-mom earrings and a soccer-ball bracelet, soccer chairs and a soccer cooler, and all the tailgate accoutrements that make soccer viewing a joy. Nothing makes me happier than sitting in my soccer-mom chair beside a grassy field watching my boy shine.
I’m not sure how it happened, but my boy William was given soccer-boy talent straight from the hand of God. I know his skills came from God because no one else we’re related to even knows what a penalty kick is, much less how to play like a fiend.
On a good day, William is a great player and a team leader. He is a true delight to watch. But on this particular afternoon, the visiting team was creaming our team, and my thirteen-year-old son was becoming more and more defeated. As the minutes dragged on, I watched his shoulders slump. He ran at half speed. He didn’t run toward the ball or try to energize his teammates. He hung his head as if to say, Please let this end as soon as possible.
As his mom, I had had about all I could take. Even though I was in the stands, I could feel my kid giving up. That wasn’t what the coach wanted, and it certainly wasn’t how we had taught him. I wanted him to keep playing with his heart until the end.
I kept patting my husband’s arm and telling him what needed to happen. “The coach just needs to sit William down if he’s going to play like that… If he’s going to give up when they’re down, then maybe he doesn’t need to play soccer… I ought to walk out there and tell him we’re going home.” I was frustrated to say the least.
At one point in the game, the play came to our side of the field. Most of the players had gathered at our side, near the fence in front of our bleachers. During a lull in the game and while the referee was waiting for substitutions, William just happened to be standing at the fence right in front of where I was sitting.
I’m telling you, I did not mean to do this. It was not planned. I had no idea it was coming, but from somewhere deep inside my mother’s heart, I felt my body stand up, and in front of all the fans and all the players gathered in front of me, I yelled as loud as I could, “William! Be. The. Sunshine.”
The moment that last word left my lips, I realized what I had done. All the parents in the stands burst out laughing, and the players smirked and giggled. William never looked at me, but I knew he had heard me because I felt my words land on him. The parents kept roaring and saying things like, “My son would kill me if I yelled something like that!”
My husband leaned over to me, took my hand, and told me with his eyes that it would be a good idea for me to sit down.
After the game was over and we had lost pitifully, William gathered his gear and packed up his athletic bag. Then the cutest soccer boy
ever walked straight across the field to me. He kissed me on my cheek, looked into my eyes, and said to me, “Mom, really? ‘Be the sunshine’?”
I said, “Oh, honey, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Truly. It just came right from my mama’s heart of love. I couldn’t stand watching you be so discouraged. I just wanted you to pick it up and lead your team with enthusiasm. Honey, I promise I will never yell that again. Next time what can I say that would be an encouragement to you?”
“Hmmm. I don’t know. Maybe ‘go, motor-head.’ Something manly.”
“You got it, baby. I mean motor-head.”
The very next soccer season, we travelled to Charlotte to play a rival school. This time our team was doing the creaming. As our score climbed, we realized that continuing to cheer wildly for our boys would be impolite, so the parents from both schools began talking to each other. One of the dads said something about fourteen-year-old boys entering a new phase where they are embarrassed by everything their parents do. He said, “Just standing there breathing in and out slays them!” We all laughed together about our common dilemma—trying to raise fourteenyear-old boys—and shared stories about embarrassing our sons. Eventually I said, “Oh, I can top that,” and I told them about the time I had yelled, “William, be the sunshine!”
One of the more vocal dads from the other team lost it. He said, “Oh, my gosh! I think that is the worst thing I have ever heard. I cannot believe what you yelled to him. My son would never speak to me again if I had done something like that.”
I told him I’d felt bad about it for the whole last year, but he was making me feel awful all over again. And then we all laughed about it some more.
Our boys won that day, and as we left the stadium, I ran into the same dad. I said to him, “Great game! Thanks for hosting.”
He got this big smile on his face and replied, “Be the sunshine!”
In that moment, I had a flash of brilliance. “Hey,” I said, “do you see those boys in the red jerseys coming up the steps? Do you see number twenty-four? Say that to him!” Then I ran to my car as fast as I could.
Sure enough, as William walked up the steps with his team buddies—the presence of victory in their confident swaggers, lots of high fiving and smiling all around—the dad from the other team yelled over to my son, “Hey, number twenty-four!”
William and his buddies turned to see who had called out to the victorious one.
When the dad had the team’s full attention, he pointed to William and yelled, “Be the sunshine!”
I laughed so hard I thought I would lose it. Even from my hiding place, I heard William yell above all the fun, “Mommm!”
Ever since those soccer games, the words “be the sunshine” has become the buzz phrase in our house. Those three words have come to mean so many different things. I kiss my kids and whisper to them on their way to school, “Go be the sunshine.” The kids pop
into my room while I pack for a trip and encourage me by saying, “Be the sunshine, Mom.”
But most importantly and as a Christ follower, every day the phrase “be the sunshine” reminds me of my calling on this earth. Jesus
spoke these words to you and to me, “Let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16 nasb). Then He said, “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43).
He’s talking about us. We are called to be the sunshine!