Staying in the Game

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.

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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…

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What does staying in the game mean for you?

Men, have you heard of Traction? TRACTION is a 6-day experience designed to encourage global workers who serve in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Scholarship help available until it runs out! Please contact us and we’ll help you out.

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This is The Grove.  It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt “Metaphor”.  Click here for details and instructions. 

11 Comments

  1. brooke February 19, 2016

    I love that illustration. As a former softball player, it resonated.  It also resonates in that it is much easier to hole up in my apartment and watch a movie or chat with those overseas than it is to go to another expat birthday party or dinner.  Sometimes I am frustrated with them and their decisions. Sometimes I want to avoid reality with a good book.

    Yet, in the end I must stay in the game. It is easy to remember that I need to get to work with my ministry to nationals. It has a schedule and reports and that’s “why I am here.” But it is harder to be social and make an effort.  Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Tim Austin February 19, 2016

      I can relate Brooke. My tendency to avoid goes hand in hand with how I’m wired as an individual. So I have to push myself when it comes to things like staying engaged socially. For some of us it’s the opposite- things like personal retreat and times for reflection come hard.

  2. Kelly February 19, 2016

    This week staying in the game means doing the hard work of loving and serving my family even though I am exhausted and sheltering in place during elections.

    1. Tim Austin February 19, 2016

      I like how you began your comment “this week”. A reminder that the priorities of staying in the game  can and will look different at different times!

  3. Jenilee February 19, 2016

    agreeing with the comments and joining mine with theirs… this was a great reminder and a strong illustration of staying the course. Thanks for writing that story out for us!

  4. Ellie February 19, 2016

    “What does staying in the game mean for you?”  is a really difficult question for me at the moment as we’re in a time of questioning a lot of things we thought were clear. I think I just want to share my frustration that this week I was thinking: we know from training that a lot of people go home from the field because of relationship and team issues and I know that that is real. But for us it’s rather been a reverse situation of being very isolated and so whenever I read a post about how it’s about “forcing yourself to go the distance” with team members I have such mixed emotions – because I know that it’s really hard for people in difficult team situations – but I’d so like to have a team. This is a super hard job and we’re supposed to do it in teams aren’t we?? Paul took people with him. It is received wisdom. I agree it is good.. But what do you do when for different reasons there’s just never been one? (It doesn’t work out and people who come, leave, people who are supposed to be team with in a different style don’t understand and don’t want to..) I imagine it’s a bit like someone longing for children with someone who has children complaining about all the sleepless nights when little ones are ill… It’s not that you can’t get that it’s hard, and it’s not that you  think that it’ll all be rosy if you get your wish, it’s just that there’s something very tangibly missing (that comes with good things and hardships) but that you definitely don’t have and would like to, desperately like to.

    1. T February 20, 2016

      hey, ellie!  asking our Father to give you co-laborers/siblings where you are working who will want to join in with you!  I think you are right:  it is a super hard job, and it is probably usually better together.  I’m sorry you’ve having to do the really hard thing right now.  It reminds me of a quote by Jill Briscoe that I thought of a lot when we were suffering:  someone has to do the hard thing.  sometimes in order to get the job done, or at least started in an area, there has to be pioneering effort–that could go for beginning a team or beginning work somewhere specific.  if He wants you there (and that is something you can ask Him), then i don’t imagine He’ll leave you hanging for long.  at least not longer than you can take.  i’d also ask if it is possible to find short term people who are able to come and fill in while you are waiting for more permanent folks.  that got us thru a surprising number of years here.

  5. Jennifer February 19, 2016

    A recently learnt lesson I am still very much just beginning to walk in, is to recognize that often the key to being able to stay the course, and to play the game, is to also take time for fishing. While sometimes we do “avoid” playing the game, sometimes we are so focused on playing the game, on doing what we should, on doing what is “important”, that we lose sight of the need for rest, for time, for space, as well, if we truly are to be able to persevere in the long run, without simply wearing out. I think that “fishing” whatever that means for each of us, needs to be a part of our regular routine, part of our doing, not an occasional bonus or luxury, or when we reach burnout, but all the time. I learnt this lesson the hard way.

    1. Tim Austin February 19, 2016

      Great insight Jennifer. I’m getting ready to post a follow up on my blog about exactly that. The other side of the coin!

  6. Kimberly February 22, 2016

    And then the game is rained out…

    I’ve spent the last year pioneering, in the freezing cold (I don’t like the cold) mountains of Asia. Two weeks ago I was forced out of my ministry base with no possibility of return. 12 hours away, I’m taking up precious space in my friend’s tiny one bedroom apartment, where three of us appreciate God’s goodness.

    I want to stay in the game.

    I hate fishing.

    This feels a whole lot like fishing.

    The big one got away and I smell shad…lol

     

    1. Tim Ausin February 22, 2016

      I love the fact that you are able to appreciate God’s goodness in the midst of a huge interruption to your life and work. Believing and praying that you will have a “tug on your line” soon and that you’ll continue to know His peace and goodness in the waiting.

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