Little league baseball was probably on of my fondest memories as a child. Everyone in my town always made a really big deal about baseball. I mean a really big deal. On opening day we would have a parade through town where all of the teams would march int their new uniforms. The crowds on the sidewalks were filled with parents, neighbors, and anyone that happened to live around that knew about opening day. The parade would go all the way through town and end up at the baseball fields where vendors were set up. You could get hot dogs, crab cakes, lemonade, and sno-balls. At night, sometimes, there were even fireworks. Little league baseball was a big deal.
I can remember begging my parents to let me play. I was only seven or so at the time and it seemed like it was the most important thing to me. I knew that most of my school friends would be there, and some kids from other neighborhoods. I just knew that it would be fun. I really wanted to play.
My parents said yes.
Like I said, I was about seven when I started playing. I remember my first team I was ever on. I remember meeting kids that didn't go to my school. My best friend to this day was on that team. As the years went by, kids on teams get switched around, and we get to make new friends. Pretty soon every kid in town knew every kid in town because of baseball. Baseball is cool.
There are many aspects to the game. You get to hang out with your friends, you get to get dirty, you get to learn important lessons about teamwork, and most of all, you get to spend a little time with your parents to and from games. Baseball is cool.
I played shortstop mostly. Sometimes second, third, or even pitched a game or two. I was a pretty good player. Nothing ever got by me and I hit the ball more times than I missed. I got to play a lot. Baseball is cool.
My dad used to come to my games and watch me play. This made me happy since he never seemed to be to concerned with me otherwise. Whether or not that's how it was, that's how I remember. Anyway, he did come to my games. I can remember year after year he sat in the bleachers and watched me play. How I knew that he was watching is every time that I made a great play, I would look to see if he had seen it. Whenever I hit the ball between right and center to give myself more time to get to third, I would look to see if he was watching. He was. When I stole second, he was watching. When I scored the winning run, he was watching. Most of the time he was even cheering! At the sight of this I knew that he was my dad and I was his son. This was great! It seemed the better I played, the more my dad loved me. Baseball is the coolest!
This is where I learned a behavior that stayed with me through most of my life. Perform well...be loved.
When I entered into the work world, I naturally fell into positions that were performance based. Budgets, sales goals, cost cutting, anything with a measuring stick, I became good at. I was all about performing well. This actually did me quite well in the work environment. I became the best at what I did.
I did learn the hard way that this principle doesn't fair too well in the relationship world. I have had my share of failed relationships because of my need to perform well to be loved. I spent most of my life feeling alone because I couldn't understand the difference between "what I did" and "who I was." Maybe at the time there was no difference. Baseball isn't so cool anymore.
The truth of the matter is this. God doesn't really care if I play baseball well. I AM his son and He IS my father. For God so loved the world, not because anyone was performing anything. He loved us because of who we are. Not what we do. Unconditionally. I don' t have to be a rock star. I don't have to be a surgeon. I don't have to be anything for God to love me. I just have to be me.
I love the people in my my life. I ask you to do the same.
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not when you score a home run.