OK. I know I am not Oprah. But I just finished this book that I think everyone should read. It may seem like a strange pick as an inspirational read for a stay-at-home-mom, but it resonated deeply with me.
The book is called "Quiet Strength" and it is the story and thoughts of NFL coach Tony Dungy.
Yes, yes. I know what you are thinking. Sure, she picks a football book and expects it to mean something to everyone. Well, first of all football is an insightful analogy for life and all its lessons, and second, while this book has its background in football, it is about so much more than sports.
I originally bought this book for my husband for Christmas. Now Mark isn't much of a reader - it just isn't how he likes to spend his free time - but he devoured this book in two days. There is a stamp of approval if I ever heard one. Being an avid football and Tony Dungy fan, I decided to pick it up and read it as well. I knew I would like it, but I didn't expect it would be so applicable to life as a stay-at-home-mom.
Throughout this book, Dungy shares his Christian faith. It is amazing to me in a culture of egos and attitudes that anyone can stay focused on Jesus. But Dungy, and a surprising number like him, do just that. (Yes, there are Christians in the NFL!) Their belief in God and His character shape not only their decisions, but also their responses to other people's decisions.
Another aspect of this book I loved is how consistently he seeks to bring out the best in others. He treated his players with respect and maintained high expectations of them. He sought to prepare his assistant coaches for head coaching jobs, never threatened by the possibility they would one day be his equal and adversary. Coach Dungy wanted everyone around him to reach their potential.
You would think in this book there would be an intricate, invaluable, highly detailed secret for success. I keep reading, thinking surely in the next chapter he would reveal this key to success in life as well as on the field. It just never appeared on the pages. And then finally I got it. There really is a secret, but it isn't detailed or terribly intricate. Here it is - God calls us to be faithful, not successful. Do the right things and do them over and over. Coach Dungy keeps telling his players that the plan is to "do what we do". Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations.
Now you're wondering where the heck is the link between that and my life? How does this philosophy change the way a 34 year old stay-at-home-mom of two young boys thinks about her life?
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising two children - two boys nonetheless. I worry. I misstep. I misspeak. I misjudge. Sometimes I am just plain wrong in the decisions I make. And when those moments happen, I feel defeated. I worry - how will my boys grow into godly men if I keep screwing up? How will they pick a godly wife if I insist on making them grow up in a home with a grumpy woman? How can I help them discover their passions and develop their gifts and abilities when there are graham cracker crumbs crunching under my feet that need attending to?
Here's the thing. Just like in football, there is a right way to perform and a wrong way. Sure, there are intricacies in football that the average spectator doesn't grasp, but let's face it, most of us know when there is a penalty and we know it is six points when the ball crosses the plane of the goal line. As I read the Bible, God shows me that there is a right and wrong way to live - not just as a mom and wife, but as a child of the Living God. Some aspects of my faith and some decisions I may face can be more complicated, but in the end I can say for the most part I know what it means to live a faithful life. Success is not my business - it is God's. Faithfulness is my part.
After a losing game, Coach Dungy would remind the players that there were areas of improvement, but they needed to just keep doing what they do. Some days it goes well. Some days you need to play faster or smarter or better. But the overall game plan doesn't change. Do what we do. Over and over. Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations.
I find that refreshingly inspiring. I don't need another book telling me how to manage my time better or how to get more done or how to discipline my boys more effectively. I just need to read the Word and be faithful. Do what we do when we love the Lord. And when I fail (oh, and I will!) just get back up and start doing what I do all over again, some times just a little faster or smarter or better (I am guessing "faster" will be the key for me as the mom of two energetic boys...).
I have always loved Coach Dungy and now I have an even greater respect for him. Take the time to check out this book if you are looking for an inspirational read. Mark and I thought it was terrific.