When the words came tumbling out of his mouth, I wanted to throw-up. Literally, I felt sick to my mama stomach.
I wasn’t there when it all went down and honestly, I’m really glad I wasn’t. There are just some moments this mama would rather not witness, and this was one of those. But Daddy was there, and there is such comfort in having your daddy behind home plate as you spill tears on the baseball field. And though Daddy shared and recounted the details from his perspective and after the fact, little boy filled in a few more gaps (a few days later)–gaps that pushed me to my praying knees.
Our #9 was up to bat. He was the last batter of the inning and the game. Grabbing his bat and confidently lining up his feet, he took a swing….like he always does. But for the very first time (in 6 games), he hit the tee. Toppling to the ground with the ball dropping a few feet in front of his feet, Coach Daddy grabbed the tee and set it again. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if he had hit the next ball or the next three, our player was already upset. But to make things a little worse and a little more humiliating, he hit the tee another three times. Absolving into a puddle of disappointed and embarrassed tears, Daddy called the game. With his head hung low and tears falling down his face, he walked to the dug out.
His Papa had a conversation with him. His MaeMae had a conversation with him. His Daddy had a conversation with him.
I’m not sure all that was said in each of those conversations, but I know there were validating words shared, encouragement spoken, and perseverance encouraged. And yet…I’m not sure that any of those conversations changed the way our little boy felt.
Our little #9 didn’t mention a single word about that Wednesday, evening ball game until two days later…when I finally brought it up. And to be honest, I’m still a little shocked that he never brought it up. And yet, kinda not.
Standing at the kitchen sink, I simply said, “Daddy told me about your game on Wednesday. I’m sorry you had a difficult time. Do you want to talk about it?”
From his hung head and his shy face, I could see his answer from the kitchen.
I didn’t push.
Continuing to clean the counters and tidy up the kitchen, I half-expected him to move on, but a few seconds later, he said, “Mommy, I’m not playing baseball anymore.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Why have you made that decision?”
“Mommy, I never want that feeling again.”
Ugh. (insert: sinking heart feeling)
Our #9 never wanted to feel those feelings of embarrassment again; he never wanted to feel the angst of disappointment; and he never wanted to feel the sadness of failure again.
And his solution to all of that?
Avoid baseball and stop doing the very thing he loves so much.
My heart was sad and yet, I really understood it. It made sense. In fact, it made perfect sense.
I’ve been there and felt that. In fact, there have been many moments throughout the course of my life when every part of my feelings were shouting after a yucky-failed-hard-negative experience, “I NEVER WANT THAT FEELING AGAIN.” And during those times, my mind has emphatically nodded its head in agreement urging, “You’re right. You should absolutely avoid ________ in order to prevent those feelings from ever happening again.”
Have you been there too?
Maybe it’s been a failed work experience with a new task or a new job?
Maybe it’s been a disappointing friendship or maybe even a failed marriage?
Maybe it’s been a hard ministry experience or a difficult service opportunity?
Maybe it’s been a yucky experience trying to lose weight?
Maybe it’s been a difficult go of implementing new, life-disciplines?
Maybe it’s been a really painful church experience?
Maybe it’s been one-too-many, awkward dating experiences?
Maybe it’s been an uncomfortable situation with a person in authority?
Maybe it’s been a series of unsuccessful job interviews?
Maybe it’s been a miscarriage?
Maybe it’s been a terrifying public speaking experience?
Maybe it’s been a hurtful leadership experience?
Maybe it’s been a “loved and lost” experience?
Maybe it’s been a social experience gone terribly awry?
I don’t know what it’s been for you, but I imagine there’s a possibility you, too, have struggled like our #9.
Saying something along the lines of, “I never want that feeling again.”
And because you never want that feeling again, maybe you’re now engaging in a whole lot of avoiding? Maybe you’ve given up and walked away? Maybe you’ve made a litany of excuses? Maybe you’ve hung up the towel on something you once loved and really enjoyed?
Rewind to my conversation with our little ball player…
“I understand that, buddy. That was a really yucky and embarrassing experience; I’ve had those too. But ya know what? I think it would be really disappointing if you let your fear scare you from your joy.”
There was silence.
“So I think it would be really awesome if you spoke back to your fears and gave yourself another chance and another experience.”
There was more silence.
“Because I think there’s a little boy who really loves to play baseball and would be really disappointed if he let one, failed experience take control of all the good experiences.”
And then there was a little smile and a glimmer in the eye.
“I think I want to try again.”
Giving his head a rub and his arm a squeeze, I simply said, “I think that sounds like a good plan, buddy. A really, really good plan.”
Dear soul, I don’t know where you are or what “home-plate experience” you’re fearing or what “tee” you’re possibly avoiding, but I pray you will face those fears…take those thoughts captive…and stand again.
Because like our little guy, you’ll never experience that next, awesome “hit” unless you get back in the “batter’s box!”