Saturday, October 5, 2013

Confessions of a Baseball Mom: Wear it

It was the coldest, windiest day of the season. Brrrrr. The wind felt like it was whipping right through me. Every part of my body that was not covered with several layers, and wrapped in a huge blanket, felt like an ice cube. Not surprisingly, most of the other parents chose to stay at home for this game. Our team had to travel two hours to a small town to play another varsity team looking to improve their standings with a win.  But, my son was a senior and since this was his last season to play baseball, I was determined to make it to all of the games, freezing wind or not.
I had never been much of a yeller in the stands. One, it hurts my throat to yell, and two, my son told me when he was eight that he was never able to hear anything I yelled from the stands anyway. Plus, this year I was the backup scorekeeper, keeping track of every pitch, hit and defensive play, on an official looking scorebook. So, there wasn’t a lot of time to yell if I had wanted to.
It was a tense, close game, made more tense by having to fight to keep sitting upright against the wind. Honestly, it was brutal for the few fans wearing parkas watching the game. There was no talking in the stands. With the wind howling so loudly we could not have heard each other anyway. Everyone was just wrapped up in their own little cocoon, peering out under hats to watch the game.
Toward the end of the tied ballgame, my son was up to bat. He, along with most of the others had not had a hit this game. In fact, during his last two at bats he had been hit with the ball in the back and the left arm. Ok, it happens, and there was the wind factor. But, having watched and recorded every single pitch, I noticed that nobody else from either team had been hit with a pitch. With the ball flying 85 miles an hour, it was able to cut a straight line to the plate even in the wind.
I was anxious for him. I knew he wanted a hit, and the team needed him to hit a run or two in, so we could get ahead. A homerun would win the game. The pitcher got ready and threw what looked to be a rocket blasting out of his hand. Pop! Right on my son’s left ribs.
I lost it!  Standing to my feet, defying the freezing wind, I yelled at the top of my lungs.
Nobody gets hit by a pitch three times in the same ballgame without it being intentional! My son had been on a home run streak the past few games, and that pitcher and opposing team had my son’s number. Literally. Either their coach had decided, or the pitcher took it upon himself to bean my son with the ball every time he got up to bat, rendering him unable to hit a homerun or anything else. I had had enough! I focused all my outrage at the umpire.
Later, I was glad that I hadn’t grown up with cussing in my home, so it wasn’t something I had to worry about flying out of my mouth in uncontrolled moments like that. Still, that was not my proudest moment. As the howling wind drowned out my voice, I doubt the umpire or the other team was able to hear me at all. The two men in the stands wearing parkas looked at me and nodded their encouragement for me to keep yelling at the injustice.

In the end, the pitcher got a warning. A warning! My son would come home with three huge welts that took a week to go down. I don’t think he cared. In fact, like so many other idiosyncrasies in baseball, it was actually a badge of honor to get hit by the ball. As he slowly jogged to first base, past his teammates in the dugout, they, as only teenage boys can, were smiling and laughing and calling to my son.
“Wear it! Wear it! Wear it!”
My son smiled at them. The team was chanting almost in unison.
“Wear it! Wear it!”
That game is long since over. I think we lost. Nobody thinks about my son wearing those three welts anymore.
Later, it came to me. Isn’t that like us? Sometimes people wear the injustices and the bad pitches that life has thrown at them. It becomes who they are. They can think of, or talk about, nothing else. It seems to go in to their fiber and changes them.
Someone is unable to get pregnant and they feel like their body has failed them. Everyone around them is glowing pregnant and their body feels inadequate. A huge welt.
A parent driving to the principal’s office, or worse, to jail to bail out their child. On the way, every car in front of them has the ‘My kid is an honor student’ bumper sticker. Welt.
A spouse decides to leave a marriage. A business downsizes and has to let someone go. A person fails at staying sober. Or, someone has a dad who was never there for them. Failed out of school.
Rejected. Betrayed. Wounded.
Welt. Welt. Welt.
And we wear it.
Life has thrown us a terrible pitch and now it becomes who we are. We define ourselves by the injustice or the terrible choice we made. We think about it. We talk about it. We worry about it. We pray about it. It consumes us. It is not a badge of honor, but a badge of shame.
We no longer view ourselves as a child of God. We no longer feel free from condemnation. We no longer feel worthy of joy, peace and confidence.  The enemy is laughing and chanting from the sidelines, “Wear it! Wear it!” He wants us to be stuck the rest of our life with the label:
Bad parent
Inadequate employee
But that is not what God says. The Bible says we have been forgiven, redeemed, free from condemnation, a citizen of heaven, worthy, bought with a price and adopted into the family of God. God doesn’t define us by our bad choices or the injustices done to us. In fact, He sent His Son to die for us so that we don’t have to wear it. We are a new person, washed clean and able to have confidence that God sees us as beautiful, no matter what we have been through. He has a wonderful plan and purpose for our lives and He is able to work all our bad circumstances together for good, if we will let Him.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wear the welts the world throws at me. I want to have joy and know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me as a child of the King, forgiven, healed, whole and ready to do the good work He has prepared for me.
What about you? Are you still wearing the welts that life has pitched at you?

You might enjoy listening to this song:
"I am New" by Jason Gray