If your summer is anything like mine, the tops of your legs are sunburned and you probably should have invested in stock for Fels-Naptha. For those of you who do not know what in the world I am talking about, you are most likely not a baseball mom. Baseball moms at all levels know about stain removal, packing coolers, and trying to outguess the weatherman. We know about batting slumps and how angry a coach can get when you don’t hit the cut-off man. We trade secrets about which concession stands are the best and where to buy cheap practice pants. However, what we know and love most about baseball is the fact that a game is teaching our boys about life.
At a young age, my son had a super competitive spirit. If you know any member of my family, this is not shocking or even surprising news. 😉 From when he was tiny, the kid hated to lose at anything…..from sports to board games. I am convinced that this sense of wanting to succeed will serve him well in life because life requires hard work and tenacity. The flip side is that an angry 10-year-old who slams his bat down in frustration after striking out must be taught how to handle competition. This meant many games being “benched” because his temper got the best of him, followed by “running poles” after the game because controlling emotions is another life skill we wanted our son to have. Oh, he tried to get out of it, but when your dad is the coach, there is really nowhere to go. So, we lived through seasons of dealing with disappointment and frustration. Our mission was to educate our son about being invested in something without letting your emotions dictate your behavior. It was not fun. Not even cute. It was agonizing and heartbreaking to watch him go through this time. But because we agreed that our job was not to make life easy for him but to allow it to instruct him, we knew what we had to do and we followed-through. Every. Single. Time.
As he gets older, the game advances and so do the learning opportunities. Baseball is a game of failure. It is so counter-intuitive that many people don’t see the beauty in the game. For example, if you bat ten times and get a hit during three of those at-bats, you are doing well. That means failing seven times is a good thing. If you thought getting a kid to understand not being a jerk after you strike out was tough, explaining that failing more than you succeed is a good thing is a Herculean task. But isn’t that true about life? I mean, maybe you are awesome and I’m just average, but I screw-up all the time. I feel like the successes are harder to come by and in order to get to them, I have to keep failing. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but I get way more bills in my mailbox than checks. And I tend to say I’m sorry more than I probably should. Life is hard. You will fail. Baseball is the perfect sport to teach a young man that lesson. If you want to be a more successful hitter, you have to work hard and put time in. You have to listen to your coaches. Isn’t the same thing true about life? If I want a richer life, I have to work hard. I have to find people who are smarter and more experienced to help me.
All this leads me to believe that God is a baseball guy. He allows us to fail but it is typically because we need to learn something, just like Kinnick needed to learn to handle his emotions. Just like we wanted Kinnick to harness his competitive power, God wants us to see the bigger picture and not live our lives based on pure emotion. Life is a wild ride and God knows we will most likely fail more than we succeed, but He is always there with us. Since Kinnick wanted to be a better hitter, we found a coach to work with him and he has watched videos and read things about what it takes to be a good batter. God does the same thing with us. He puts people in our paths to mentor us…..co-workers, pastors, parents, friends. And He has provided us reading material that shows us how to be better. The Bible is our manual to being good batters in life. We have all the tools. We just have to take the time and the effort.
I like to think God is a baseball guy…..I imagine he has a bag chair, sunscreen, hot dog and soda while He sits out in right field and watches our “at bats”. If only He could do something about the smelly shoes…