Since I realized that becoming like God was the only real important thing in my life (all else is just a way to get there), I’ve had one real goal: expand the people I consider “family.”
Obviously my parents and brother fit that place. My brother’s wife is mentioned only as my sister, because the “-in-law” thing just serves as a means of separation.
I learned this pattern from my mother, who is always trying to broaden her “family.” In her church congregation at home, she often finds a young mother desperately in need of help and becomes a local grandmother to her children. She’s done this many times, and often adopts a woman whose marriage is struggling. My mother’s support provides relief and assistance as both husband and wife struggle through learning to balance family, church, and military responsibilities.
My volleyball club culture is intended to support the families of our players, and I play whatever role the players will let me. Often, and most appropriately, this is the role of coach. If nothing else, I do that. But some allow me to be a little more, and ask for personal advice.
During this last season, I was in the throes of woe, and struggling to simply be the coach. My players–the ones who have allowed me to be closer than just a coach–reached out and asked me what was wrong. They recognized a connection that was personal as well as professional, and they wanted to help.
It took me a long time to figure out how best to tell all I was going through to teenagers, who I would have preferred remain blissfully unaware of the challenges and vicissitudes of life.But their parents had prepared them well–as I mentioned, the club exists to assist families–and they knew life was hard. As 15 year olds, their parents had chosen to let them struggle (which was a choice because monetarily they didn’t have to do that), and my players already had a mature framework to understand what I was going through.
I wrote several times previously about how difficult the season was for me. The players who supported me, and their parents who have not inappropriately shielded them from life did at least as much for me as I did for them. They were the extra bit of family I needed when I was alone.