Wes is my oldest son. When he was ten, baseball was his first love and he was insanely good at it. By the time he was twelve he had the best batting average in the league. He was nearly batting 1000 and led in runs batted in. Every time he came to the plate it was a walk, a home run, or a base hit. He never swung at a bad pitch and I never recall him striking out. Of course, as his dad I loved watching him play. The only negative was when the kids behind him struck out, Wes was always stranded on base unless he could steal home.
At thirteen, Wes was recruited to a travel team and his reputation preceded him. The coaches, fans, and other parents touted Wes’s name. They spoke of his ability, his athleticism, and his great potential. The praise was high and Wes didn’t know how to handle it.
Fear crept in, fear of striking out and letting down his coaches, his friends, his parents.
That year of travel ball was the worst year of Wes’s baseball career. The calm, relaxed kid with the perfect swing suddenly looked timid and awkward, missing the balls by a mile, or refusing to swing at all. He had the worst batting average. He looked helpless and hopeless.
The coaches all had their theories.
Keep your back elbow up. Stride into the pitch. Don’t drop your back shoulder. Choke up on the bat. Get a heavier bat. Get a lighter bat, on and on. We tried it all and the strike outs kept coming. With the season mercifully half over, his mom said, “It’s okay. We’ll just love him through it.”
My question was WHO’S GOING TO LOVE ME THROUGH IT?
It was clear that Wes was getting used to losing and seemed okay with it.
After another particularly painful game where Wes struck out at every at bat, something occurred to me. He and I stayed after the game and I threw batting practice to him. I threw three buckets, over 100 balls and I saw the old Wes. He hit everything and he hit hard, first out of frustration and anger for his difficultly on the field, then he just hit for the love for the game. The excitement in his eyes was back, the confidence, everything that was missing on the field.
The last pitch he sent whizzing to the back of the cage like a shot then looked at me ready for another bucket. I yelled, “WHAT”S GOING ON HERE!” Wes looked at me like I had lost my mind. I approached calmly, wanting to strangle him but at the same time…I was thrilled. I had suddenly figured it out.
“You know what the problem is?” I asked.
He just stared and held the bat a little tighter, since I probably didn’t look as calm as I felt.
“On the field, you’re afraid you will miss, and you do. In here you know you can’t miss, and you don’t. Do yourself a favor. When you’re out there, pretend you’re in here and see what happens.
Slowly the glimmer turned to a smile.
The very next practice I was standing outside the fence under the flag at center field, 250 ft. from home plate. Wes got up to bat, and crushed what looked like a line drive, center field. The ball cleared the fence and clipped the flag right over my head.
Just then I head the coach yell from the dug out, “HE’S BACK!”
And he was. At fourteen, he played varsity ball, was the youngest player on his high school team, and once again held the best batting average. Before Wes turned to football, his senior year, he and his younger brother helped Foundation Academy win their very first ever district championship.
Every challenge comes with adversity. Pray for strength and wisdom. Console yourself with faith and love, knowing that God has given us everything we need to change our circumstances and be victorious.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
What hardship, fear, or disappointment is your child facing? How can you support him or her in his time of struggle?
Husband to MaryEllen
Dad of 2 boys and 1 girl
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Author of the Majesty series and RETROSHOCK