In a matter of weeks, my boys will be hoisting bats over their shoulders and facing down fastballs. (Or in the case of the 8-year-old, hoping the pitcher puts it over the plate rather than off his helmet.) One thing I have noticed from years watching baseball games is the high percentage of kids who look to the stands after their turn at bat.

A strike-out. A walk. A dash to beat the ball to first. A pop-fly. A line drive. A home-run. No matter what the outcome of the play, most boys cannot resist the urge to see what Mom or Dad thought. Especially Dad.

Why? Because we all need approval. We need to know that someone cares enough to come and watch and cheer us on. And we all cringe at the possibility of disappointing the very ones we want to please. Was I good enough? Did I do it right? Are they pleased with my effort or will I get a lecture on the ride home?

Therefore, as a parent, I make every effort to keep my actions and chatter up-beat and encouraging. To demonstrate unconditional love even when they make mistakes.

Why? Because I know the twisted-inside-out-feeling of performing for an audience and am well-acquainted with my own failure to measure up. While I may not play baseball, I step up to the plate every day. At work. At home. In my marriage and parenting. In cooking and cleaning. In my diet and exercise decisions.

Who is sitting in the stands watching me? And how much weight to I place on their opinions? I have found there is one audience that matters most and that is my Father in Heaven. He loves me unconditionally. He’s the One who gave me these gifts, talents, and opportunities. He wants me to succeed. Many days I imagine Him smiling down on me. And even when I mess up, He’s there to pick me up, dust me off, and nudge me in the right direction.

When the game is over, I want to hear Him say “well done.”

What about you? Who is cheering you on? Are you living under the smile of heaven?

The Audience That Matters Most
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