When You Don’t Make the Team {And Start Placing Blame}

His phone vibrates as he places groceries on the belt.  Oh my. It’s from Sam. I don’t know if I should look.

Look! I encourage him.  

I’m nervous.  

Oh, I am sure it’s fine.  

He face drops as he scans the list messaged by his friend. Number by number he searches for 37 – his tryout number – and it’s not there.  

When You Don't Make the

He continues placing items on the belt, one by one, focusing on the yogurt and taco seasoning.  I tell him I’m sorry as I load bags. I can’t look at him.  My heart is so sad. Neither of my kids knows what it’s like to NOT make the team. We’ve always been on the list. I am not sure how to parent this.

I spring into action, texting friends, trying to find options.  Maybe there’s another team.  Maybe it’s a mistake.  I am a fixer, and I so badly want to fix this for him.  But, after a flurry of messages, the fact remains:  No baseball this year.  

I complain to my mom and friend about the way of athletics in this day and age. Exclusivity.  If you don’t play year round or have the money for training or take your kids to the fields everyday to practice, then you don’t stand a chance.  Plus, my kiddos go to one of the biggest schools in the state; he’d have made it at a smaller school. Blah. blah. I know it’s partially true, but I am really just a momma who is hurting for her son.  

We drive home in (mostly) silence.  I am fighting tears. I have no idea why this makes me so so sad. I tell myself, Lord have mercy, Sarah. It’s ONE sport for one year.  Owen lives a life that kids in other countries would LOVE to live.  This frees him to focus on tennis and guitar.  What in the world is wrong with you?  

I admit to myself and God that I feel it’s my fault.  Owen didn’t make the team because he was so well-adjusted in another town, but I moved after the divorce. He doesn’t have the advantage of living with his dad and going to the park to hit balls. (Which is not his dad’s fault necessarily; it’s the fault/consequence of decision, space, and time.) Why don’t I keep up with all things baseball? Why didn’t I have him in the right leagues at the right time? Why am I not friends with all these parents who get together and help their kids on weekends?  

Dang it. None of this is Owen’s fault.  It’s my fault.  My decisions, my parenting. My lack of interest in baseball.  I should have advocated, taught, sought, tried, and whatever-ed.

And some of this is true.  Owen will forever be affected by the decisions – good and bad – his parents made and make. It’s unavoidable.  

But, it’s not all true. And I can’t fix all things. In fact, I shouldn’t fix all things.

God reminded me that He works all things together for the good of those that love Him. That those words and this verse aren’t just platitudes we get in a text when times are hard, but a promise from the Creator of the Universe.  That I have to trust Him with Owen, with Owen’s future. He is the great Redeemer. Owen isn’t destined to a horrible life because he didn’t make the team.  Or because his parents are divorced. The Redeemer has a plan and purpose for Owen’s life that goes way beyond the decision of a middle school baseball coach and an insecure momma.

God doesn’t need me to fix it. He needs me to love Owen through it.  So many great stories in the Bible are about going THROUGH, not around or over or under. Through the Red Sea. Through the desert.  Through the cross.  Through the sacrifice. Through the storm.  Through the flood.  Through the whale’s belly.  Through the years of slavery.

And in the midst of all the “throughs,” HE is there.  Sovereign and loving.  

This morning I remind both kiddos that while they are not chosen for some things, we serve a God who is greater than baseball or dance.  We have to trust that God knows best even when we don’t understand what He’s up to.  

This life we get to live is a privilege to be stewarded well for His glory, not our own.  So many around the world do not live as we live – and while that doesn’t make it hurt any less when we aren’t chosen, it does keep our lives in perspective.  We do not live in the here and now only: we live and love for a purpose greater than ourselves.

I don’t know what you weren’t chosen for, friend.  I don’t know how you’ve felt cut down or cut out.  It hurts, huh?  Whether you’re 13 or 40, you want to be on the team.  But, I pray you know that you are chosen by the Creator. You were formed and purposed by Him, fearfully and wonderfully made. And maybe it doesn’t feel like it right now, but I promise you: He has a plan and purpose.  His timing is always perfect.  We trust in Him, knowing that he sees the entire tapestry while we only see our thread.

A side note:  God is faithful.  I get a text from a friend this morning: Your Owen is my mind this morning.  Praying for boys is a special privilege.  I don’t hear from her everyday – not even most days.  But, God knew my little guy needed some prayers. He knew my friend, His servant, listens and follows well, so she’d pray the minute He laid Owen on her heart.  Thank you, Lord, for caring about the smallest details.  When this world has much bigger problems than middle school baseball, we thank you for caring about the small.


  1. Beautiful words of encouragement. God is working so much in your life forming you into His image. Thank you for sharing life with us and so many mom’s who need to read this post today!
    You are an awesome God loving mom!!!

    • Thanks, Kathy. That’s always the prayer…that someone else woke up today not feeling chosen or part of the team. But, that in some small way God could use me to remind them. And honestly…writing is how I process most things. And it’s how God speaks to me. Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. Sarah, Disappointment in our children is hard to swallow. We must trust in God and the plan He has for us. God is using Owen’s situation to shape and prepare for what is in store for Owen. There are bigger things. In the future. Prayers Sue

    • Thanks, Sue. It’s one of those things that I know in my head, but still stinks. He just texted me to say “all anyone is talking about is South baseball.” So sad, but I know if Owen had made the team, he’d be talking about it too. So, THROUGH we go.

  3. Phyllis Barnett says:

    Beautiful story Sarah. Very few athletes make a career of baseball and football. Music and Tennis are sports that can be a lifetime activity. Encourage Owen to hit that guitar and tennis ball, 😘😘

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