We are delighted to end “Men’s Week” with a post for us all: men and women, fellow servants of Christ. Welcome one and all to comment, link-up, and interact as the brothers and sisters we are.
I prefer fishing over baseball. Always have. Near my childhood home in Northern California, there was a creek full of smallmouth bass, bluegill, and an occasional trout. With fishing pole in hand and my Springer Spaniel off the leash, a week hardly passed without going on several fishing expeditions. Never got tired of it.
Baseball, on the other hand, conjures up some unpleasant memories and feelings of regret.
I still have the marks of a jammed finger from little league practice, but that’s the least of my boyhood woes.
I was 12 years old. It was Saturday and time to go fishing. It was also game day. My team was counting on me to be in the game. Should be a no-brainier, right? Go to the game. Fishing could wait. But the events of the previous week…I was trying to forget about it. I’d rather go fishing.
I had been begging my coach to let me pitch in a game. Finally, my moment of glory came. He took my tired and discouraged teammate out and put me in. I messed up royally. I can’t recall all the details of that day, but I know this: I left that field never wanting to return to the game.
The die was cast. I had decided that I was a fisherman. I preferred it over baseball. Still do.
So, that Saturday found me wading in the creek when it was time to be in the game. The fish weren’t biting, game time was approaching, and guilt was growing. I knew where I should be, but just couldn’t face the discomfort.
To this day I wonder how my dad knew where to find me. I could have been anywhere on that creek, out of sight from the road. But I just happened to be on a stretch of water within his sight as he rounded the curve. Rolling down his window, he called me out of the creek and into the car. “You have a game to go to.” he said.
My change of clothes was in the back seat. I wriggled out of my sloppy wet fishing attire and into my sleek baseball uniform. The transformation was complete. We were on our way. I was back in the game.
I wish life could be as simple as this 12-year-old’s decision between baseball and fishing. We all know it’s not. But life is very much about staying in the game…
Having the courage to return to that difficult conversation with a family member or teammate. Returning to the field. Going back home. A potential career shift. A chaotic transition. Sometimes, just staying in the room takes all the determination we can muster. Each decision comes down to this: What does it look like to stay in the game?
In answer to that question, baseball is probably better suited than fishing. At least for me. Here’s why:
Baseball reminds me of where I should be. This is especially true in my roles of husband and father. We all need our escapes, times of quiet and solitude. For me, fishing is a great way to do that. But when we use anything, whether hobbies or habits, as an escape in order to avoid the unpleasant, the “team” suffers. It’s a short term mentality that leaves us with regrets.
Baseball’s a team effort. The expat life is full of amazing opportunities to do life together. Single or married, tons of opportunity for shared experiences make it a life really worth living. Sure, our lives can get messy at times. Enough to make me wish I was on the creek again. But looking back, I’d have it no other way. My life has been enriched and my family enlarged by staying with the team.
Baseball is more like real life. We’ve all heard the phrase, No man is an island. Others on the team-family, friends and co-workers-are impacted based on my willingness to show up. We are interconnected, dependent upon one another. If I’m out fishing on game day, how will that impact the others? Like a lot of team sports, baseball teaches this and many other valuable real-life lessons.
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV
Those two verses from the writer of Hebrews speaks volumes to me of the long-term benefit of showing up, of staying in the game. I’d love to hear what staying in the game means for you.
My son, by the way, is super athletic and excels at team sports. One of these days I might need to pull him out of a game to go fishing. On second thought…
What does staying in the game mean for you?
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