Grandpa sits in the black leather recliner smoking his cigars, watching the Kansas City Royals with grandma and mom and dad. I sit off to the side in my little kid desk, coloring and half listening to the grown-ups talk about base hits and outs and errors.
Sometimes I look up at the TV when the bat cracks, and the player throws the bat down and starts to run, but then things happen so fast, I lose what is going on. Wham, everybody scrambles, balls fly, umpire does something weird with his hands, and what the heck just happened? Safe? Out? Something?
Back to coloring. I was not an athletic child.
But now my kids play. I have to understand it better. And to my surprise, I like it. I like the Braves, and I like Craig Kimbrel and his unusual, glaring chicken stance that precedes every pitch. I like how he leans over and sticks out his elbows like the Karate Kid, just before burning up an almost 100 mph strike into the catcher's glove before the batter blinks.
I love watching my son step up to the plate, wiggling and strutting and tapping the bat on the plate, anticipating whatever is coming at him.
I love seeing my daughter's arm rotate 360 degrees before she releases the ball and steps forward, ballet-like in one smooth motion.
The pitches fly, the batters swing, the runners sprint for their lives, the game is in motion. The game is always in motion.
Wild, unexpected, twisty, screwy, hard, fast, and sometimes nasty pitches flying through the air, and I'm at the plate, holding the bat. No idea what kind of pitch I'm going to get. Not in control of that.
Oh how well I know.
I can't explain here the pitches that I've faced since last August. I don't know if I ever will. They've been complicated and shattering, and I imagine everybody in town wonders what is going on with the preacher's wife, but even the preacher's wife doesn't fully understand. I have not breathed easy since last summer. And it's May. I haven't posted anything here since December.
To someone who has always been in control of her life, who's always had everything just so, the straight-A student with all ducks firmly planted in a row, it has been nothing less than a tsunami of darkness that has debilitated me physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
These posts come out of my heart and out of my life. I can't write anything at all that's not me and not real. Most of what I have posted here was written with the goal of building others up. And because I shudder at the thought of opening up, and because I have not been in any position to build up, I haven't written anything at all. I am not being vague for the sake of being vague because it's so irritating when people do that with obtuse one-liners on Facebook. It's just that the story has too many moving parts. And I cannot pretend to blog frivolously about life as if everything is fine when everything is not fine at all, and it hasn't been for a long time now.
But friends have lifted me, have pulled in next to me in a grocery store parking lot and crawled into my vehicle to offer a shoulder to weep on, have listened on the phone to my heart breaking out of confusion and fear, have come over with no hidden agendas but just to bring meals when I haven't been able to make them, have held my hands and prayed with me while I was falling to pieces in the middle school parking lot, have kindly chattered nonstop at my kitchen sink washing my dishes to keep my mind off things, have taken care of our children at moment's notice, and have not made me feel embarrassed. Our dear church family, oh how could I ever begin to thank you? You've loved us, you've understood somehow, you are standing by your pastor's family in a time of great need, and I am overwhelmed even as I write this with tears of gratitude for all that you are and all you've done. God put us here for a reason, not just to bring us to you, but to bring you to us. How dearly we love you.
But none of this changes the fact that I'm still at the plate. I have to stand there, poised and ready with the bat every day when I wake up whether I want to or not. We don't get to choose the pitches we get. They just come. I hope that one day, I'll look back on this season of life like I did as a kid watching the Royals - crack, bam, scrambling, chaos, a big shake-up on the field, what just happened, Grandpa? What was that? Did that guy make it to first?
The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe. - Proverbs 18:10
I am not righteous, certainly not with all that has happened, these burdens, this mess. On the contrary, I am broken to pieces. But somehow, in a way that I do not understand, I am qualified to run because of Jesus, because He and He alone carried my griefs and sorrows and my mess and your mess - that means I can run to him and be safe. RUN, burn up the dirt, all the way to the base. To the strong tower. Safe.
Thank you, God. I see your arms open wide.