The struggle is real…

We’ve been in California a little over a month now and I can honestly say that every day has been filled with a new challenge or lesson. It has taken me until now to truly articulate what I have been going through mentally and emotionally and I probably will still miss the mark in explanation. But here goes nothing…

For those of you with pitchers that have experienced the California league, you know — it is brutal. To be straight, the fields are small and the wind blows straight out, which creates an absolute nightmare for pitchers. ERA expectations are considerably different than other leagues and the transition from Low A is often a rough one.

While I have seen plenty of good pitches from my husband and our team is on an upswing (recently clenching playoffs while on the road), our time here has been filled with struggle. It is a very hard lesson to learn how to support your man while things aren’t going as well as usual.

As I am sure many of you will agree, there is nothing worse than seeing your husband or loved one struggle. All you want is him to perform at his best every single game and it just doesn’t work like that. As much as we would like to think otherwise, situations are not always (or ever) in our control and there are times when the cards just don’t fall. It is even harder when those cards continue to scatter game-after-game, which chips away at his confidence.

I felt like I tried everything. Saying nothing, changing the subject and saying a lot, positive reinforcement — the whole bit. Nothing I said or did could help the situation and I questioned my time here and whether I was helping our hurting. I began to blame myself to try to take control of the situation.

For the sake of staying aligned with my commitment to transparency, I have to admit I was in a bad place for a while. I got to a point where I was so entrenched in hits, walks and stats that I drove myself into darkness. There is no other job where your performance is so public as in professional athletics and I couldn’t avoid the weight of that pressure. I was wrecked reading comments and listening to people’s ridiculous insults that I lost sight of why we are here. I went quiet for a couple days, constantly thinking and contemplating “what ifs” and doubting God’s plan.

Ever since we have been together, baseball has been apart of our lives. I have seen him struggle before and felt empathy, but nothing felt quite like this. When you play minor league baseball, so many aspects of your life hang in the balance based on performance. Especially when you’re married. The pressure is real and it is intense. And while I felt empathy for him in the past, it is so much different now that we’re married and in this thing together. The fear of getting moved down, released, changed to a different role and many other unknown options loomed over my head and made me extremely emotional and on edge.

It took meeting a new friend and letting her counsel me to change my tune. It is hard to explain, but I immediately felt God’s intentional plan of putting this woman in my life. I shared with her my struggle and she admitted that her and her husband had experienced the same situation in the past. It was so inspirational to hear her perspective on what God has done in their life and marriage in redefining her husband’s career.

While this “lightbulb” that came on in my mind doesn’t change my husband’s stats, it makes his stats unimportant. When all is said and done, the Lord does not care about balls and strikes. No matter how far he makes it in his career, baseball will be over one day. What will stand for eternity is how he used this platform to further the Kingdom. Do his teammates know that he is a Christ follower? Do they want to know more about walking with Jesus because of the way he lives his life?

It applies for me, too. How am I carrying myself in the stands? Do I seem confident in God’s plan despite the outcomes of the game? I can honestly say that while I was walking in that darkness, I was not myself. I wish I could apologize to everyone that had to sit with me at games and listen to me worry and stress. I was not fun to be around and was certainly not displaying Christ’s love with the way I was living my life.

While the lightbulb was unavoidable and really changed my state of mind, it is not reasonable to just think this change will happen in a second and be permanent. I had to set up boundaries. No more checking stats after his performance. No more following minor league baseball accounts that spark rumors about trades and releases. No more following people’s performances and stressing about potential outcomes. I have to be very intentional in staying committed to these boundaries, but I can honestly say these changes have done big things for me.

Once I realized how much the fear and doubt in my heart was spilling out into my words I was really upset with myself. The last thing D wants after having a rough outing is me talking about all the changes in the organization and performances of people around the league. Not to mention, how did I think it was helping for him to see me worrying about moves when he needed to focus on improving his game to be successful? I only admit to these feelings because this post deserves the full truth. I was not fulfilling my role as his wife.

One of the greatest aspects of a relationship with Christ is grace. I can feel his love and grace in my life so much right now and I have learned so much by just looking at His work throughout this struggle. As long as He allows us to do this, we need to be intentional about serving Him daily. I need to commit to His calling on my life to be a light in the stands while D does work through his team and on the field as he performs.

Now, looking back, it is all so clear. These are long seasons and it is very easy to be consumed by the daily grind of games and travel. There are a lot of late nights and crazy schedules, which do cause you to drag after a while — it is unavoidable. But despite circumstance, I am called to stay committed to Christ’s calling on my life. I cannot be consumed by baseball and the stress of uncertainty.

I hope this encourages you to do the same.

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4 responses to “The struggle is real…

  1. This was my exact story 36 years ago as my husband got his chance in the big leagues only to pitch poorly and feel the being sent down looming. I too went dark but gave it to God after about 4 wks. I never was the same again. I lived in the assurance of being in His plan good or bad. What a difference it made. You are on the right track. What matters is how we represent Him and to bring others to the hope we have in Him. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I can SO relate! This was me ten years ago. You are smart to set up boundaries. Online chat boards are THE WORST. Don’t go there.

    Do you get the Baseball Chapel devotionals? If not, you should. Then you should start writing them yourself (if you don’t already).

    Here’s a link to one of mine – http://www.baseballchapel.org/index.cfm?Fuseaction=DisplayDevotional&DevotionalID=3469&CFID=3610307&CFTOKEN=22415106

    Thank you for your honesty!

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