Spring heralds the popping up of hyacinths, daffodils, narcissus and other bulbs. “What?” you say. “It’s only January; spring doesn’t come for a couple of months.”
Not in South Carolina and northwest Georgia this year. I had two pots with hyacinths (don’t you just love the way they smell?) on my deck. A few weeks ago they started coming up green and now have full blooms. (I moved them indoors because we had a frosty evening a couple of weeks ago). A friend published pictures of her daffodils on Facebook recently. She lives in northwest Georgia.
Spring also is the beginning of the baseball season. When I was growing up, Dad would take us to the San Francisco Giants games. Just to show you how long ago that was, it was Willie Mays’ heyday and Orlando Cepeda’s “Baby Bull” slugging days. I loved baseball back then. I hardly ever watch it now. But that’s okay. I have those fond memories to remind me of a more innocent and simpler time — you know, when you went on vacation with your family, your dad was actually present (not on his cell phone or laptop) to enjoy the time with you, or take out food was a special occasion and “fast food” barely existed except in local drive-ins.
Anyway, I digress. I often do that at five in the morning. Baseball pitchers throw fast balls, sliders, change-ups, knuckle balls and a host of other types of pitches. They also throw curve balls, which in reality don’t have a curved trajectory, but are straight and slow.
Life throws us curve balls as well. They are straight and slow and hit us when we least expect them. And how we react is pretty typical for a lot of folks. The first feelings we have are fear, a sense of loss, anger, dread, etc. This is, of course, assuming the curve ball has a negative connotation for our life.
I believe that how we handle the curve balls shows our character, displays our ethics and/or has an impact on some part of the rest of our lives. Notice I didn’t say the “nature of the curve ball” shows these things. Nope. It’s how we handle it.
And many of us don’t handle them very well. We rant and rave, moan and groan, look everywhere we can for sympathy and generally feel pitiful, anxious and often – get sick in the process of it all.
How do I know these things? Because I am such a good example of them! For the last two years I’ve been sick, as most of you know. Have I handled myself with grace and shown joy? Not for the most part. For the most part I’ve felt sorry for myself and wondered how I can possibly do God’s work when I can barely get out of bed.
Some people have said they admire my faith during this time. Wow. I can’t think of a greater compliment. But alone at night or in the middle of the afternoon, the fear sets in. How long will I be coughing like this? How much time will pass before I can travel again? Will it be many more days before I have the energy to do such a small task as doing the dishes?
And then another reality sets in. I remember to be grateful for what I have, who I am and all the wonderful blessings in my life and the fear and pain pass over to peace and life seems bearable once more.
The thing is: God loves us. He loves you and he loves me — exactly the way we are, pitiful or joyful, afraid or in pain, fat or thin, and rich (materially) or poor. He loves us all the time, and I think he especially loves us when we don’t love ourselves. It is then that our cries make him cry and if we look and listen really hard, we’ll hear something or see something that reminds us who he is and that we are his beloved children.
So whatever is going on in your life today, tomorrow or a year from now, try to remember that God loves you. If you can remember that, you’ll be two steps ahead of the game. And one more thing – the game is just a journey. And the journey is everything.