By Libbo Crosswhite
Let’s Hear It for the Girls!
From the moment I began planning Mary Thomas’ nursery, I knew that I wanted my prayer for my daughter to be a prominent design of her room. At the risk of being too cliché, I chose what I felt was going to be my declaration for her life and my prayer for her in this world. For me, Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future,” was the essence of the daughter I hoped to raise—an anthem that I wanted for myself and for future generations of women both in my family and for my sisters in Christ.
It wasn’t long until I realized that I was going to need a lot of help raising a daughter in this world. The amount of pressure that seems to rest on me as a mother is only magnified for girls in our culture. At four years old, Mary Thomas and I have already had hard conversations about feeling left out, defining the word “beautiful,” and understanding how to be kind and loving towards others when it’s really hard to do so.
I think that’s why the Mississippi State women’s basketball team has been so much fun to follow, to root for, and to watch on the national stage. Whether you are a State fan or not, it’s hard to deny the incredible journey that we have watched unfold under the national spotlight the last few years. We have watched women who were defined by their character and resilience rather than just their physical appearance. Strong women who overcame the adversity of being told what they were or weren’t by the world.
We had human interest stories galore: Blair Schaefer battled the feeling of not being good enough and showed little girls across the country what can happen when you hustle and work for what you love; Tierra found her love of basketball during the peak of her middle school years when all people would talk about was her height; Morgan William was told that she was too short to play at a higher level and found herself proving naysayers wrong over and over again.
We found ourselves celebrating the strength and dignity of other women. And it’s an empowering thing for us to not only know how to lift ourselves up but to celebrate other’s accomplishments as well. This group of women brought so many in our circles together—both men and women, young and old of all different backgrounds, colors and culture—in a time where our nation seems so divided. I love that my daughter got to see me, and others for that matter, celebrating other women for their character and their strength, their ability to overcome adversity, and for the people they were both on and off the court. It was a team that was easy to cheer for, regardless of your choice of home team.
The past two seasons for the Mississippi State women’s basketball has been a living image of both the goodness of what I want my daughter to become and the joys and defeat of motherhood. The pinnacle of both these seasons was a buzzer shot. Last year, of course, we were on the winning side of the buzzer shot. The shock, the excitement, the utter joy of victory. The Shot. What a sweet time of celebration for our team, for our state and, one could argue, the entire program of women’s sports across the country. Goliath had fallen and Mississippi State and “Itty Bitty” Morgan William was the stone to the forehead. Flash-forward to almost exactly a year later and the gut-punch of being on the losing end of The Shot was utterly heartbreaking.
And after thinking back to what this team has meant to each of its circles, I think it’s clear that both shots are a picture of motherhood. Very rarely are we in control and very often we as moms find ourselves reveling in some of our highest highs because of our children. The first time they smile or laugh, their school pictures, the tight hugs that they give—man, that’s the good stuff and can make us feel on top of the world. And then there’s the losing end of the buzzer shot: when our plan to have children is not what we had hoped, when our children are sick beyond our control, or when they hurt in any way. A lot of times we can find ourselves asking the “what if” questions that so many of us asked this year after the national championship game when the reality is that we are in control of so very little. We can confidently live out the last part of Proverbs 31:25 when we fear God far more than our future, because the reality is, we don’t really know when our next buzzer shot moment—good or bad—will be. But we have a confident hope in the One who is in control.
The beautiful thing is this group of women will not be defined by one moment, but rather by a series of small moments that have shaped the legacy they left behind. A legacy of hard work, a legacy of building one another up and celebrating the strength and dignity rather than merely the physical appearance and fame. Mary Thomas, along with thousands of other people, got a chance to meet her heroes at an autograph signing this past weekend at Mississippi State. She joyfully stood in line for hours rehearsing what she wanted to say and what she would tell them. What a powerful thing for us to take with us as we celebrate mothers across the world.
May we celebrate each other in our victories and support each other in our defeats and remember that Christ has won the battle for each of us in His death and resurrection. Praise the Lord and go girls!
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 4 years old and a son, Russell, who is 2 1/2 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.