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  • Writer's pictureJenni Sheneman

One Big Lesson From Bear’s Big Shot

Updated: Jul 17, 2018

On our most recent trip (I place lots of emphasis on trip because when traveling with small children relaxing is typically not in the itinerary), we visited Wilmington, North Carolina where my husband is from and where his extended family lives. His retired parents recently made their way back to Wilmington where they will spend the remainder of their days too--sans one week in October that they’ll spend with my kids here in Atlanta while my husband and I spend a week long VACATION in California—see the difference?

Wilmington always brings about a good time and laughter that leaves your belly sore for days to come. My husband’s cousin, Matt, and his wife, Liz, have four kids--3 boys and a baby girl. One of  the highlights of the stay is going over to their house for some good ole’ backyard, sweat your weight off, fun. Their kids love most sports, but basketball pulls on their heartstrings! Rightfully so, as their mama was a collegiate basketball player at NC State.

My son, Bear, isn’t really athletic, but he loves to get in on the action and try. As the boys laced up their shoes, they’d made their way onto the court, a.k.a. the cement driveway. With balls flying all over, they scored time and time again. Feeling a bit intimidated, Bear lingered to the side of the “court” and practiced the basics of dribbling with my husband, Trey. My husband played a little b-ball himself in his glory days, although he was blessed with a football player’s physique. I, on the other hand, played basketball one year, only made one basket from the free throw line, and then promptly hung the sport up. Why anyone likes that sort of physical contact, I’ll never know.

After spending some time with his dad on the sidelines, Bear was ready to take the court with his cousins. In spite of some of Bear’s medical issues, he has never felt bad about trying just about anything. Trey, Mark (Trey’s other cousin, Matt’s brother), Matt and his boys took to the court, surrounding and encouraging Bear.  Matt gave Bear a visual as he positioned his hand near the net. Bear struggled with getting the ball vertical, so seeing something other than the basket was a good reference point. With a few repositions and modeling the proper formation, Bear began to shoot more in the proper direction. He started off practicing with a smaller ball to build on his confidence. Shot after shot, miss after miss, he got frustrated and said things like, “I can’t do it.”

Confession: even at 35, I battle these thoughts and words, too.

Those men around Bear kept speaking words of  life over him and Bear took those words and owned them. He began to repeat after Matt, “I’m ready! I’m going to make it!” Affirming words breathe life over a weary soul and a weary and sweaty soul he was. As he repeated those words, you could see a shift in his posture, position, and place on the court. His confidence was growing and words of defeat began to leave him as words of victory enveloped him. He was getting closer as the ball rose higher towards the basket. His time was drawing near and the sight of dust flying off the net was eminent. And then it happened!


The ensuing response from the entire family would have made a passerby think Bear had just won the big game. There was jumping, screaming, shouts of joy and praise, and some dance moves flowed out of just about everyone! Bear’s confidence soared after the shock wore off. He smiled from ear to ear as sweat poured down his red cheeks. There was still one last obstacle to overcome and that was putting into play the regulation-sized ball. As he gripped the BIG ball from Matt’s hands you could see the excitement fade, as he was uncertain of his ability to muster this ball into the hoop. Sensing Bear’s anxiety returning, Matt began speaking life over him once again. As Bear repeated the words, he took his shot and came up short. His hands were wet with sweat, but he was determined. As he readied himself, he released the ball up and it flew through the air as if it was happening in slow motion. I held my breath, with iPhone video rolling in one hand, and didn’t so much as blink for fear I’d miss a monumental moment. As the ball traveled through time, it made its descent and came in for a landing….SWOOSH, nothing but net!!!

Oh the joy, cheers, and tears. It was indeed a victorious moment!!!

There are so many lessons I learned in those sweet moments in the driveway. Lessons about how in each of our own lives we experience moments in such a way that we often feel like a huge orange ball flying through the air, uncertain of where we will land. With much hope and expectancy, we pray that our dreams and visions land in the net--not beside it, behind it, or a hair follicle short, but straight through the goal.

But the most important lesson I learned is that sweat equity is required. We often get so set on the outcomes that we forget the work it takes to achieve an expected outcome. We often want to throw in the towel, confessing broken words like “I can’t do it” in an attempt to quit before breaking a sweat. Sweat equity is necessary, and it’s part of the game. We want the biggest profit for little investment. Unfortunately, it’s not how the game of LIFE is played. Life requires sweat and sweat produces a profit!

It’s part of the process. Jesus, himself, knew all about it. In order to get to His promise, He yielded to the process. The sweat equity he earned was painful and perplexing but there was purpose in all of it. His persistence lead him to the promise; in spite of the pain, He accomplished his purpose and is now seated today at the right hand of his Father.

I thank God for the sweat equity the Lord earned for us; and, for the persistence Bear showed in his moment.

And to that passerby, Bear did win the big game!


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