Our oldest is mildly obsessed with baseball. By mildly, I mean totally and completely. We’re talking t-shirts, halloween costumes, birthday cakes, and, yes, actually playing baseball.
So, the Saturday before last was a big one in our house. It was Jack’s first try-out for a spring baseball team since he’s now playing AAA ball. Don’t worry…no one gets cut, the league’s just trying to make the teams somewhat even by distributing players according to their skill level. So, this wasn’t a complete make or break moment. But good luck telling that to a 10 year old who is mildly obsessed with baseball, more than a little competitive, and a bit of a perfectionist.
As we were headed to the try-out, I could tell Jack was nervous. It seemed like a good moment for me to do a little coaching/pastoring/fathering. I know Jack has a tendency to be really hard on himself and get discouraged when things don’t go well (I have NO IDEA where he gets that from?!? Must be Laura’s side of the family?). So, I wanted to help him think through how he was going to react if he didn’t hit a ball or dropped a catch or made a bad throw. He has a tendency to beat himself up in moments like that, “You’re the worst, you suck, no one wants you on their team, everyone’s watching, everyone’s laughing, you’re the worst, you suck, what’s wrong with you, you should quit, you’ll never be any good, you’re the worst, etc…”
It’s kind of hard to hit the second pitch with all of that running through your head. I wanted to help him talk differently to himself. So, I asked him who his best friend from baseball is. In classic Jack fashion, he responded, “Man, I don’t know. Can I pick like four or five?” (He does get that one from his Mom!). Nope, gotta pick one. Don’t overthink it, just give me a name! He finally landed on a kid named Brooks. Great choice. I really like that kid!
I asked him what he would say to Brooks if Brooks got a strike on his first swing. Jack being Jack, he launched into a full-volume cheer from the backseat, “You got this, Brooks! You can do it! Next one’s yours! Come on, man. You got this!!”
We find it easy to cheer for others but so hard to do the same for ourselves.
What if we all did what I asked Jack to do on Saturday – talk to yourself like you’re Brooks!
There are two vital conversations that shape our days and our lives. One, the conversations we have with God. Two, the conversation we have with ourselves. And a lot of us are really hard on ourselves. We pray to a God of grace and forgiveness but we’re harsh and unforgiving to ourselves. We preach a gospel of mercy but pummel ourselves. We need to let the two conversations that shape our lives blend together. Stop preaching hope for others but brutalizing yourself. Give yourself the same grace Jesus has already given you.
Talk to yourself like you’re Brooks.