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Baseball Bummers & Better Things

Debriefing disappointment for growth and grace.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

This cornerstone Bible verse (and my former life verse) was recently widely popularized by the Netflix original hit, Manifest. While I'd love to review this entertaining series, that's not why I'm here. Last week, my very athletic and ambitious 15-year-old freshman son found out he didn't make his nationally ranked high school baseball team. Though not entirely unexpected, it was still a big bummer. He's taking it like a champ--philosophical, mostly positive, and undeterred, planning to up his game for a fall comeback. Despite some misgivings, I won't discourage his perseverance, knowing the benefits. Plus, whatever happens down the pike, I've lived the truth of Romans 8:28.

Pondering the imponderables.

There is little more unsettling than seeing your kid disappointed, especially if it seems unfair. I know enough now to not linger there--unhelpful and irritating to all involved--and to take my questions to God.

I normally wake in the dark of night for my coveted quiet time with God, when the veil between this plane and THAT ONE is thin. It is good. On the heels of the news, I rose peaceful but pondering Pierce's disappointment (say that five times fast). I journaled my questions, reflecting on all the factors that may have contributed to the outcome, some within my power or his, many absolutely not--like Pierce waking the morning of tryouts with a bad case of Covid.

Some of my musings were self-deprecating, others were indignantly accusatory. All of them were mostly futile. I will never know the answers. More accurately, all the questions that tumble forth at such moments are answered by Romans 8:28 and even more fully by the sufficiency of grace.

God always answers prayers.

My mentor Barbara often reminds me God always answers prayers:

  1. Yes.

  2. Not now.

  3. I have something better planned.

I like this take, but in the moment my desires are thwarted, I really want to shout,

"Whatev!!!!!!!" Even though I know it's true. Pierce, his dad, and I can surely harvest some lessons from this experience, and we will. Lessons that foster growth and blessings if we let them. Regardless, in the pre-dawn stillness, that quiet inner voice reminded me: God works all things for the good. Not because of me or the vagaries of life in a broken world, or my ability to sidestep or overcome obstacles, or redouble my efforts, but in spite of me.

Because God is good. All the time.

Romans 8:28 tells me all I need to know. Or as 12-step programs put it, "Either God is everything or he is not."

I can encourage Pierce with reminders about Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Abe Lincoln, or this weekend, Olympian slalom hopeful Mikaela Shiffrin, but mostly I want him to know the truth of this verse.

The Dugout, Norman Rockwell, 1948

Dastardly detours and disappointments.

Those of you who know me know that I've faced quite a few dastardly detours in my life. Those are the moments when an outcome says, "screech!" or "full stop." Some of these detours were surely of my own creation, some totally outside my control, and others an inextricable and bewildering fusion of both. So far, all of them either had silver linings, turned out way better than projected, or were necessary, though very uncomfortable, redirects to a better way. Here are a very few:

  • Three years into a difficult marriage (17 years ago), I had decided to divorce, with burgeoning plans for a grand future, but instead found myself joyfully but unexpectedly pregnant with Pierce, stopping me in my tracks and thus forcing me to grow in place, which I did in spades.