Tag Archives: don’t quit

Married for life. It’s not a game.

10 Apr

Rooting for a baseball team is a bit like being married. You swear from the onset you’re in it for the long run, then one day you look up and say, “Hey, this isn’t the team I remember!”

Over the winter, while you’ve busied yourself with life and other urgent matters, your team has been maturing, purging what you thought were endearing qualities, and growing longer beards until everyone on the roster looks like Jayson Werth.

My Washington Nationals lost their first game this year. More than a little disappointing. Then they eked out a win Wednesday and lost yesterday. They’re struggling, and I find myself wanting to leave the room rather than watch them unravel.

Who is this pitcher? Where are The Goggles? Who’s this guy on first? LaRoche would never have missed that throw!

If, like me, you’re thinking about walking away, don’t.

You see, I was married before, to the NY Yankees in the late 1970s. It was a great time to be a Yankee fan, particularly since I lived in BoSox country and babysat for a man who didn’t care that it was illegal to gamble with one’s 16-year-old sitter’s pay check. Every time our two teams faced off, we went double or nothing and I brought home a serious bonus. I was in a good place, and my team couldn’t lose. Then, in the summer of 1979, my hero, Yankee catcher Thurman Munson, was killed in a plane crash. I was so devastated that I walked away from the game and didn’t look back.

In a way, I was angry that the team could so easily move forward without Munson. I’m sure his replacement was a capable player, but I couldn’t see anyone else behind the plate. I know they finished 4th or 5th in the league standings that year, but I was no longer interested. Or so I thought. Over the next 30 years, whenever the Yankees fared well, I’d mumble a trite and whiny, “I used to be a Yankee fan.” I wanted to feel that excitement again, but it was gone. In a moment of pain, I’d given up my rights to any future celebrations with that team.

Glove and Rings

There’s no such thing as a sort-of union.

Then I met the Nationals. For two years I’ve cautiously invested time, getting to know the players, their strengths, and their character traits. I learned to wait for Denard Span to spin the bat 11 times before he settles in to hit. I learned that when Geo starts to mumble, he’s about to crumble and he’ll soon be taken out. I learned that a healthy Zimmerman can play anywhere, and there’s no such thing as too many good players. I dared to love again, and by mid-season last year I was back on a baseball high.

Now I’m not sure about anything. Half my favorite players have been traded and the others are starting the year injured. There are so many new faces on the field, I feel like I’m the stranger here. Plus, I’ve become too busy over the winter to sacrifice that kind of attention again.

Perhaps they’ll be fine without me.

However, I’ve learned from watching my husband that I cannot give up. He was a football fan when I met him, and he saw the Broncos through some dismal seasons over the years. At one point in the late 80s, I could barely watch games with him because it hurt my heart to see him become despondent. Yet, every week he’d be at it again. Hopeful. Dressed in blue and orange. Bronco flag waving proudly in front of our home.

When the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999, my husband’s joy was uncontainable. And why shouldn’t it be? His loyalty paid off, and the victory was all the sweeter because of the steep climb he’d made alongside his beloved team.

So, I will announce to all the world, I am a Washington Nationals fan. The season ahead looks tough, but it’s just a season. I will find those things about my team that haven’t changed, like their work ethic, their genuine encouragement and concern for one another, and their love of the game. We can build on that. They might let me down, but I’m not leaving.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that supporting an untested team is not nearly as meaningful as sharing their victory through struggle. No marriage is without struggle, but the rewards of facing trials together, finding common ground, and building toward a better season are bountiful and strengthening, and well worth the effort invested.

Geo is pitching tonight against the Phillies. The Phillies, for Pete’s sake. He can take ‘em. And I’ll be watching, cheering, and hoping against hope that he not start mumbling. Even if he does, I’ll then pin my hopes on the next pitcher, the next play, the next game, even the next season if need be…whatever it takes to make it through. And the victory will be sweet.

Yep, I’m married for the long haul, because I believe in my team. Oh, and I think I’m a Nationals fan for the long haul as well.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. — Romans 12:9-12

Bamboo Faith: Why I Can’t Quit Writing

9 Oct panda and bamboo

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your own ineptitude? I’ve been there for the past two weeks, and last night, it almost beat me.

panda and bamboo

Mei-Jing and bamboo (the flag was outside; the artist was 5 and all about details)

I was throwing away a bamboo stump that had been a living plant in our home for at least the past 12 years. It represented a simpler time in our lives, a time when watering plants was part of the weekly routine, and wishes were easily satisfied. We bought the plant when my youngest, who’d just acquired a stuffed panda named Mei-Jing (what else?) asked for bamboo for Christmas, explaining quite simply, “You can’t have a panda without bamboo.”

Bamboo is like cactus, in that it takes a lot to do it in. It thrives, even when neglected. My friend tossed a dying bamboo root in her back yard a few years back and now she has a forest out there that would make any panda feel right at home. But then, I’ve killed many a cactus plant in my day. And now I’ve killed Mei-Jing’s food supply as well, because I no longer have a weekly routine.

So last night, I stared at that clump of former life and had a pity party. I told myself it represented the past few weeks, in which I’ve been racing around to accomplish “stuff,” but really, I’ve gone nowhere. Joe’s story has received two rejections from publishers; I’m having trouble finding blog time, which is one of my favorite things to do; and when my fledgling business was begging for water, I prayed for water and got a firehose. I cannot operate a firehose, so I just about drowned everything in my…ineptitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve become accustomed to, and accepted the reality that…well, I’m not the brightest bulb in the dirt. (See how that doesn’t work? Nevermind.) I come by this quirk honestly. Once when my dad was in a hospital waiting room, fretting over Mom as the doctors worked behind closed doors (she was ok—that’s not the story), the doctor came out and told him it would help if he got some donors. My dad made a beeline for the exit and was gone for 20 minutes. When he came back, he presented a pink box to the doctor and said, “I didn’t know if you wanted glazed or jelly filled so I got some of both.”

So, yes, I’m a bit off, but I’m generally capable. I can juggle many tasks, write a fine short story (if I do say so myself), and make kids laugh without actually falling down. That’s why, when I left my job to write full-time, I had a certain degree of justifiable confidence in my ability—until this week.

Here’s the situation: Despite the negative news (so far) for Joe’s story, my freelance business is taking off. I’d been writing one story a week for some time now. Last week, because I forgot to take my name off a list of availability, I managed to sign up for three stories at once. Naturally, I was too proud to say it’s too much. I figured, the interviews have been averaging two hours (recorded on an mp3 file), and the stories are so intriguing they practically write themselves, so I thought I was up for the challenge. HOWEVER, both interviews this week have been well over three hours. One is with a woman who speaks with a heavy Romanian accent and the other had some sort of technical glitch forcing me to fight through static to transcribe the conversation. It has taken me six hours to transcribe the first hour of each tape. The rest awaits. Ineptitude. I woke this morning dreading my work for the first time because I have so much to do and still another interview tomorrow. I’m overwhelmed. I cried in my pity party and thought, perhaps I’m not cut out for this.

Here’s where I praise God for that few moments each day that ARE routine. You see, every morning I try to spend my first 30 minutes or so studying the Bible. Lately that’s been in the form of Beth Moore’s Children of the Day study of 1st Thessalonians, in which I read about Paul’s concern for the new believers after their trials. He wrote, not to assure them they’d be okay, but to remind them that they would be hard pressed to come out unscathed. He added, “I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

And bam! I remembered: I’m not doing this on a whim, but because I believe it’s the Lord’s plan for me. Anything that comes against my decision to write is not of God. I know the “tempter” isn’t looking out for my best interests. What he holds out before me is not escape and relief, but surrender. When I’m wounded and angry, he’s delighted, because I’m close to giving in. (That’s one reason he attacks our loved ones, by the way—to get us where we’re vulnerable—but that’s another blog). Simply put: he plays dirty. And I know what he wants from me. Not my business. Not my stories. Not my hopes and dreams. These things mean nothing to him, except as a means to get what he really wants.

New bamboo plant

My plant of new hope…it better hope I remember to water it.

He wants my faith.

He’s not getting it.

So this morning I bought a new bamboo plant and set it in the same vase as the last one. I watered it (so that’s at least once…) and set it where I can see it. I’m not inept. I’m administratively challenged. But I have a Counselor who isn’t, and so I leave that part of this job to Him. These next few days will be challenging, and before I’m done I might be speaking with a static-y Romanian accent, but I know there’s victory coming.

Now, I’m heading back to finish my transcription; but this time, I’m armored up and ready to fight. Are you with me?

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” 1 Thessalonians 8