I love the metaphor Keith used here about helping his son see beyond the mechanics of batting, and the perspective gained from taking something like this and applying it to life. It reminded me of another baseball metaphor I have been thinking about a lot recently…
I used to play summer Little League when I was in middle school. I wasn’t very good. I am kind of a slow runner, I’ve had bad knees all my life, and was usually out of shape a bit. I enjoyed playing baseball, but I just wasn’t an all star or anything. In three years of playing ball, I think I got on average 2-3 hits a season. I walked a few times, but I usually struck out.
It wasn’t that I was just a bad hitter. I would go to the batting cages and hit a vast majority of pitches. I loved feeling the connection of a ball on the bat, and just putting my entire effort into stopping the momentum of that ball, and sending it flying in the opposite direction.
But in a game situation, I could never hit the ball. And it was because I was terrified of being hit by a pitch. Pitchers in my league threw pretty hard, but like most little leaguers weren’t terribly accurate. Anytime I went up to bat, I was deathly afraid of being hit by the pitch. So I stood near the back of the box, too far away from the plate. And anytime a pitch was the least bit inside, I would either swing (not to hit it, but to avoid being hit by it), jump out of the box, or hit the dirt (often to the laughter of the other team, who sees this kid falling onto the ground every time a pitch comes within a foot of him).
And for three years, I was a miserable hitter because I was terrified of being hit by a pitch. I didn’t really put two and two together until last summer, when I finally realized that I probably would have been a pretty good player if just one time, I had just gotten hit by a pitch. Then I might have realized that it wasn’t so bad, and fear wouldn’t have consumed me every time I was about to go up to bat. It would have allowed me to think about hitting, rather than focusing all my attentions on avoiding getting hurt.
Last summer, I realized, that so often I play the game of life terrified of being hurt or hit by whatever kind of pitch the world might throw my way. And it keeps me from being an effective player in whatever game I’m in…whether it be school, or ministry, or relationships, or whatever. So I’m trying to live in such a way that I am not afraid to step up to bat and hit the ball.
So now I try to intentionally ask myself a few different questions about this stuff:
– What kinds of fears are keeping me from being fully engaged in different aspects of my life?
– Is my focus on avoiding pain, hardships, and failure?
– When I experience failures or setbacks, how can I use them to grow and stretch me in a way that better prepares me for the next pitch that is sent my way?
– Am I spending so much time preparing myself in a safe and controlled environment that I am not ready for the real world?
Just some thoughts….