Monday, March 26, 2012

Light and Momentary, Buckeye Softball, and Waiting

I have been consumed lately by waiting.

Is there something consuming you?

For 2.5 years I have been waiting for resolution to a particular challenge. Whether that is a "long" wait is a matter of perspective. Maybe you have waited longer for something. Maybe you can't imagine waiting that long for anything.

One day I will have an entire book to write about this situation. But, for now, suffice it to say this is a financial matter that has strapped me and several people close to me.

These words come to mind often: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Last Saturday was the opening of the Big Ten softball season. My favorite team has been waiting for this day since May 14, 2011, when they finished the season at 3-17 in league play. The 2011 season was frustrating and heartbreaking for many reasons. The tourney season has been successful - but this is what the team has been anticipating most. Dominating the Big Ten and going to the post-season is what will make their comeback complete.

I am anticipating a comeback as well. The first two years of my journey have been difficult, to say the least. Financial hardships, mental strain, fighting off fear, humbling myself to accept help.

The last six months have been completely consuming. Truly. Every aspect of my life, every relationship, everything I do has been under the control of a resolution that has been promised but not yet delivered. "Tomorrow" and "soon" are words that no longer have meaning to me. Initially, I had to break many plans...then I quit making plans altogether. I declined invitations to parties, weddings, showers. I missed basketball games, movies, and dinners with friends.

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

The situation has become too complicated to explain, and naysayers are not what I need, so my interactions recently have been limited to either folks who stand with me in believing this will resolve in my favor, or those who know nothing about it and are not affected in any way. This has made life stressful and lonely.

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

Have you had a period of waiting with just a couple friends at your side? Or maybe alone, just you and God?

I missed the B1G season opener Saturday in Columbus. Just as I missed every tourney, despite having plans to attend at least three. It is impossible to list every event I have missed, due either to lack of funds or to waiting at home for a promised call that has fallen through. Missed opportunities, broken promises, strained relationships.

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

Have you ever been told something would happen on a certain day, then it doesn't? Have you had that happen again and again for 6 months running? Then you know how I feel. Hopes rise and fall. You see a light at the end, then a door slams or the tunnel changes direction. It is maddening and exhausting.

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

There have, of course, been many lessons. It is good to learn the difference between "want" and "need" and between "uncomfortable" and "desperate."

It is even better to learn how to completely surrender to God. I thought I had learned that. I was wrong. It has only been in the past 6 months I have been able to say, "Okay, God - I don't understand and I want to be SCARED out of my mind...but I know you love me more than I can imagine and won't let me go."

There have been great lessons in humility. Also lessons in being gentle with others, as I realize I don't know their travails any more than they know mine. But it has still been difficult.

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

The Buckeyes played well in the first game on Saturday, and won in extra innings. Timely hits, one harmless error, only 2 runners left on base in scoring position. Game two was a different story. Three errors leading to runs, 8 runners left in scoring position, 4-1 loss.

In a recent interview, Vanessa Spears, Buckeye left fielder - who, by the way, covers an amazing amount of ground - said one of the important things Coach Linda Kalafatis teaches is that no single game defines them as a team or as individual players.

It is an important lesson in softball and in life. No at-bat, no error, no game, not even a whole season, can adequately define a team or a person. You can be shaped and made better...but not necessarily defined or defeated.

And so it is in life. This season of my life could have destroyed me. Every morning when a new day is tossed my way, I could stand with the bat on my shoulder and watch it go by, leaving the outcome to someone else. There have certainly been many errors on my part - some that allowed my opponents to gain. I have allowed opportunities to pass by, left runners in scoring position so to speak. And I could have allowed this to define me, to defeat me, to alter my future.

Instead, after much practice, I have learned to repeat this phrase that frees me:

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

How about you?

What do you have that looks menacing and life-changing? What if you learned to repeat:

Light and momentary. Light and momentary.

What if you really believed it?

The Buckeyes are back in action on Wednesday for a doubleheader. I hope to be there.

It will be a new day, new inning, new at bat for all of us.

Maybe you can start a new game as well?

We will talk again soon.

BP :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Robin Roberts, Buckeye Softball, and the Gap

March 16. Out my window, clouds. Inside, cloudy as well.

There are days when the gap between where I want to be and where I seems HUGE. Today is one such day.

Maybe you know what I mean?

Nothing in particular spurs that feeling...simply a general malaise brought on by some stressful life situations.

There was a time when the gap was caused by FEAR. Growing up, I had very clear ideas about who and what I wanted to be. But I never fully believed in myself. So I let doubts creep in, and I acquiesced to every obstacle. FEAR

Did you catch what I said? I did not believe in myself, in the gifts God has given me. I didn't want to fail, so I chose not to try. FEAR

Do you know what I mean? Have you been there?

My favorite softball team is in Nashville this weekend, looking to bounce back from a three game losing streak. There is a gap between where they are, and where they want to be. But I am certain the Ohio State Buckeyes are not moping or cowering or giving in to FEAR.

Is it because Head Coach Linda Kalafatis and I are wired differently? That seems like the easy answer.

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was in elementary school. An English teacher. And I knew, as a child, that one day I would speak and write and people would listen to what I have to say, would be helped by my words. I can't explain how I knew this by the age of 10...I just knew it, saw it, felt it.

Coach K shared with me that she tried out for the softball team in high school because her best friend did. Chose her college the same way. She wasn't driven from an early age to be a softball coach. Some experiences in college resonated in her mind: things she would or would not do as a coach to get the best from players. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, she earned the chance to coach. 22 year old grad student, coaching her alma mater.

I don't yet know Linda well enough to speak of any fears she has. But it is very clear that she goes full speed ahead in all pursuits. If she has any fears, there are overrun - pretty much flattened! She decided to be a Division 1 softball coach, put that goal in her mind, and her focused actions cleared the path. Three job interviews, three offers, now one of the 30 best coaches of all time, closing in on 800 career victories. NO FEAR

The same thoughts occur when watching Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. She had a goal to be on ESPN when there were few women on the network, and none that looked like her. But she ignored all the "facts" and negative comments along the way. Now, after 15 years at ESPN, she has moved on to ABC and is watched by 5 million people every morning. NO FEAR

So what is the difference? Are some people special and some aren't? No, we are all gifted.

Then why are some able to jump the gap, and others become mired in it?

We could delve into psychological theories and deep introspection about childhood influences, etc. But that doesn't work. Trust me, I tried it for years. Got me nowhere.

Then I embraced the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline

Some translations say "sound mind" or "wisdom" rather than self-discipline.

It's a scripture I had heard or read hundreds of times...which is completely different from embracing it.

Embracing it means accepting that if there is fear, I choose it, allow it, maybe welcome it. Welcome? Sure, because fear encourages me to accept limits and make excuses. FEAR gives me an out. FEAR can start a pattern of circular logic that keeps my mind and emotions spinning, undermining my will and my dreams.

I spent years thinking about, talking about, trying to expel the "demons" that kept me from doing what I knew I should be doing. You've probably never done that.

I focused on why I hadn't done it yet, what was holding me back, how I was different from others, what was wrong with nauseum

Until the day I embraced this beautiful, painful truth: God never gives anyone a spirit of FEAR, but He won't stop me if I choose FEAR.

I am no more wired for FEAR than Linda Kalafatis or Robin Roberts. The difference is I have, at times, chosen FEAR, allowed it to make decisions for me, allowed it to encourage me to wallow in the gap rather than pushing out and carrying on.

The past two years have been ones of tremendous personal growth through a difficult circumstance. At this point, I can honestly say I FEAR nothing on this Earth.

Now my task is to eradicate the mess FEAR left behind. And I am, bit by bit.

How about you? Has FEAR left a mess somewhere in your life?

The Ohio State Buckeyes are starting a new winning streak today. NO FEAR in their hearts, minds or dugout!

And somewhere between the second line of this blog and this line, I stopped whining about and wallowing in the gap.

Time to close that gap. Bit by Bit.

Maybe you will join me.

We will talk again soon.

BP :)