Monday, January 25, 2016

Baseball and Bibles

My son has been playing baseball since he was 4 years old.  A total of 13 seasons, 9 teams, 2 summer tournament teams, and a whole lot of practices.  And we're gearing up for his 14th season.  I've spent a lot of time sitting in bleachers and I have the horrible tan lines to prove it.  I've become a pro at packing ice chests and meals on the go, and I am the baseball mom with the super adorable blingy shirts because if I'm going to sit out there for hours, I'm going to sparkle while I do it.

For years we were fortunate to never have a conflict between baseball and church.  Practices and games always happened to be scheduled around Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings.  And then, my son started playing with a traveling tournament team.  Suddenly there were three games each weekend, two practices each week, and he was only 6 years old. I will never forget the first time I had to make a decision: what do I do? Baseball or bibles?  He had to be at the field just as church was ending, but from church to the field was another 30-45 minutes.  He would be so late to the field, and at this level of tournament ball, you were late if you showed up on time.  

So, I dressed him in his uniform, packed his gear bag, made sure we had waters in the ice chest, packed our lunches, and headed out the door.  I didn't want to be church.  I'll be honest, we left service at the last song, we didn't stay to fellowship, but I wanted my son to know that I needed church first.

We were late to the field.  He was placed at the bottom of the lineup.  And that's all I remember about that game.  But I do remember laughing as we ran to the car after church.  I do remember watching my son smile each time someone in the congregation complimented him on his uniform.  And I do remember acknowledging that this would be the first time of many to come in which I would have to choose: baseball or bibles.

We encountered many of these instances over the years, and I have missed several of his games.  I've had other baseball moms pick him up from church to go to a game, or drop him off at church after an early morning game.
Are you wondering why I missed the games and he didn't?  Why did I allow him to play in a game and miss church?  Don't get me wrong, he's missed more than a few games.  But why am I allowing him to play baseball and miss church?

Because there is a very real battle in my home.

My husband, although he loves my church family and respects my decision to attend church, doesn't agree with me that bibles come before baseball.  Oh girl, if you could've heard the arguments in our home about baseball.  You would've thought that we were either signing him up for the MLB or shipping him off on a mission team.  We were both adamant about our views of priority.  

I prayed for a long time...about baseball.  Who would've ever thought that my prayers would be about baseball.  "How can I show my son that You come first?  How can I win this battle?  Is this a battle I should be fighting?  God, help me!"  

Why have I missed so many of his games?  Because I have a need to be at church.  And my son knows that.  My son knows that I will stay to watch his warm-up and a half hour of the game, but then I will leave to go to church.  My son knows that he has to wear his uniform to church because immediately afterwards he has a game.  My son knows that at 11:00 he will leave church because another baseball mom is picking him up to take him to the game and I will be there later.

He knows.

Now, I've had a couple different people, especially my husband, tell me that because I am not making his sport a priority that I am ultimately not making him a priority, which will translate to my son that I do not care about him.  And, wow, that has played a significant role in my thought process: "am I doing more harm than good? Am I ultimately making him feel like I don't care?"  

This past fall season, I don't think I saw more than a couple games in their entirety.  And all of his games were on Sundays because he plays with a club team.  And guess what.  He still knows that I love him with an immeasurable passion, and I love his sport.  And I love how good he is at playing baseball.  And I love to watch him play!

He also knows that by making God my priority, I am ultimately making him my priority.  

Before the fall season started, I sat down with my son and explained to him why I would not be at every game.  It wasn't because I was too busy and it certainly wasn't because I didn't want to be there.  I have a need for God in my life.  Without God, I'm not a good mother, I'm not a good wife.  He's 10 years old now, and I don't expect him to have a full comprehension about what those words mean, but you know what?  He will grow up knowing that my need for God comes before anything else.  He will grow up knowing that God is and will be my priority.  He will grow up knowing that my standard of living is based upon scripture.

My son, song leading for the Sunday School teachers before his baseball uniform.

I'm not always going to win favor with him as he grows older in his baseball career.  But right now, he knows and understands that I will always put God first.  And you can believe that as soon as church is over, I will be heading straight to the ball field to watch the rest of his game.  You better believe that I will wake up early to drive him to the field to watch him warm-up and catch the first hour of the game.  (And you better believe that I am praising God for the games that are either late in the afternoon, or on a different day, so I don't have to miss even a minute of them!)

When my son is older, he will have the privilege (and the conflict) of choosing whether he will live for baseball or bibles...but until then, I pray that I am helping him to see the foundation of my faith.  

Heading into church, baseball and bible ready!
My son knows that I'm his biggest cheerleader...I don't have to worry about being at every game for him to have confidence in knowing that.  Because what I want more than anything is for my son to grow up with the ability to say, "nothing stood in between my mom and God."

This week begins our 14th season, and my biggest worry isn't about how many games I'll miss or's trying to decide which new blingy baseball shirt I want to wear this season.

This is how I roll into church on game days




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