I love sports. All sports. I guess I get that from my dad.
Last night, the baseball team I help to coach won a tournament championship. The tournament was a double elimination format, and we went into last night as the team with no losses. I’ll spare the many, many details, but we lost the first game, late in soul-crushing fashion. As we waited for the second game to begin, our boys were understandably deflated, quiet and theirs were boisterous and self-assured. I eaves-dropped on their coach’s pre-game talk, and he spoke of momentum – they had it and we didn’t – as if it were a wave that they would ride and would drown us.
In exactly the same way I relate all spiritual matters (which is to say, all matters) to sports, I relate all sports to spirituality, and Jesus.
So, this momentum rah-rah had me thinking about last Sunday.
The message was called Begin Again, titled for a terrific Taylor Swift song. The point was, no matter where we are, who we have been, what our yesterday looked like, we could begin again. That’s the point of grace, and the invitation of the Jesus. Too often, I think because something was some sort of way, that it will be that same sort of way forever. Relationships, health, weight, the tapes in my head, and on and on and on – “it is what it is,” right?
Wrong! I hate that saying, mostly because it comes from a posture of despair and we are certainly not people of that particular defeatist posture.
This rut we dig ourselves into implies that we live lives of momentum, that our pasts are waves, that some can ride and some can be buried underneath. That what happened in the first game will impact the second. And it might. But it doesn’t have to.
After all this chatter about momentum, the opposing team was raucous and encouraged, ready to get the game started so they could claim the trophy that was now a mere formality.
Until our pitcher took the mound, and completely dominated them, 1st inning to last.
Now I understand what I didn’t when I was trapped by my lack of imagination, the voices in my head, past regrets and negativity. Momentum isn’t real, it never was. It is only as real as the next pitch, at-bat, choice, moment.
We can change our story. Faith means that we aren’t slaves to our stories, to our first games. I hadn’t been able to lose weight – until I did. Their marriage was in free fall, couldn’t be saved, everyone knew how this movie went, had seen it so many times – until they made different decisions (and those different decision started with just 1) that turned everything around. His job was depressing and unfulfilling, but he was chained to a narrative more than that job – so when he left to pursue a new spark, he found the purpose he had been lacking. An all star team of 12-13 year-olds were ‘destined’ to lose 2 straight games – until they wrote a different ending.
I like these new chapters, new endings.
And now, I’m going to the beach to write a new page of my own.