We could see it coming.  Every once in awhile, when our son Evan plays sports, there are times when you can see he can’t get out of his own head.  It’s usually when he makes a mistake or just not playing as well as he would like.  You can visibly see it on his face and body language … an almost pouty, passive, feeling “sorry for myself” vibe … and his play begins to reflect it.

He was in and out of that mode in this past Saturday’s basketball games.   With his team down by one and about 20 seconds left in the game, Evan stole the ball and went to the basket for what could be the game winning score and … missed.  But that’s not how it ended.  It got better and then …

It got worse.

A teammate fortunately got the rebound and was fouled.  He made one free throw to tie the game.  Whew! While his teammate was shooting those free throws, though.  We could see Evan pacing … stewing … beating himself up for missing the layup.  Julie and I each muttered to each other our frustration with his obvious focus on the basket he missed, rather than on what was happening in the present and that there was still time left in the game.

Obviously unfocused, Evan went ahead and fouled a player on the other team with just seconds to play.  Not to get all “basketbally” on you, but when the game is tied, you don’t intentionally foul the other team.  You only do that when you are losing.

When it hit him what he just did, he was devastated.  Tears in his eyes, he pulled his jersey up to cover his face. And it hurt more when the kid he fouled made a free throw to win the game.

We were heartsick for him.  And after some consoling, we were able to share with him this …

We can be our own worst enemy.  We sometimes make mistakes that we can’t forgive ourselves for.  So we stew on them.  And focus on them.  And we can let them define us – whether that is for a moment in basketball game or for a lifetime. Often times leading to making the same mistake or worse ones.  Focusing on your past mistakes can rob you of better things to come in the present and in your future.