Curveballs

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I am not a baseball guy, per se, but I’ve watched enough on ESPN to know that if you’re going to hit a curveball, it is best if you are looking for it based on the count and the pitcher. I sure wish it were that way in life.

In life, it seems, you don’t ever see the curveballs coming. You’re bouncing through life and everything seems to be going well. You’re getting fastball after fastball and hitting most of them. While we rarely hit the big, towering home runs in life, we at least know what life is throwing at us most of the time and we can scratch out some ‘runs’ with singles, doubles, and an occasional triple.

And then life throws you a curve.

The two pics above were taken a few minutes ago at my house this morning (a Saturday). If you’ve had this particular curveball thrown at you, you know exactly what you are looking at…if not, you should pray that you don’t ever face this pitcher – replacement of your air conditioning unit! When we headed upstairs Thursday night to tuck the kids in we were greeted with temperatures in the high-80’s and no way to get the AC back on. One night on air mattresses downstairs prompted a call to the AC company on Friday morning and by mid-afternoon we were staring down one of the nastiest curves life can throw a homeowner; both our upstairs and downstairs AC units were completely corroded in the coils, leaking freon, and freezing up (which shuts them down). I will spare you the gory details, the painful facts and figures, and the heart-wrenching looks Jessi and I gave each other and just say that it is NOT an inexpensive repair. If there is a bright spot in the story, it is that Morris-Jenkins Heating and Air of Charlotte, NC treated us with kid gloves, were as generous with the pricing as possible, and had a crew here at 8:30a this morning to make the replacements.

Here’s what I’ve learned about life’s curveballs…you can’t ever really be ready for them, but you can still make contact and stay alive.

The interesting thing about curveballs in life is that the most important thing about being able to survive them is being present in the moment. You can’t get caught up in the last bad thing or tough time you just went through because if you’re emotionally whining and complaining about the past, today’s curveball will make your knees buckle and feel devastating. You also can’t be thinking too far ahead about how great you feel about your financial stability or upcoming opportunities. If you do that, today’s curveball will take all of the wind out of your sails because it can wipe away all of those opportunities. If you stay present in life, however, you can at least view the ‘pitch’ with clear eyes and no distractions, which is the only way you’ll have any chance of making contact with life’s curveballs – and making contact is probably the best you can hope for most of the time.

My initial instinct when we found out about having to replace the air conditioners yesterday was disappointment. I think anyone would react that way. We were looking forward to having our credit cards paid off completely for the first time in a long time in a few weeks; we were excited about our savings being in a place we finally felt comfortable with; we were looking forward to an upcoming commission check that would allow us to do some things we’d been looking forward to; and I was looking forward to a relaxing Saturday at home with no agenda and some family time. When I woke up this morning, however, I realized that it is just one of life’s curveballs and because I am getting better at being present in life, I was able to foul it off. We’re still enjoying a no agenda day at home as a family (albeit it with workers walking through the house all day). We’ll get those debts paid off sooner or later. And we’re sure to have some great experiences together in the coming months despite the financial setback because experiences are a priority for our family. We just have to get back in life’s batter’s box and take a few more pitches, that’s all.

Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time

This year I’ve been training for a marathon and this Saturday – December 14, 2013 – I’m going to finally run it! Training for a marathon has really illuminated the saying we’re all familiar with: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It would be very difficult to decide to run a marathon one week before the race or even 6 weeks before the race and expect to be mentally and physically prepared. It is a large task and it requires you to consistently train and prepare over a long period of time. Many days it seems like you are making very little progress towards the goal, but each run builds a cumulative effect on your body to be up for the task.

Similarly, this lesson has been going on in my life in 2013 as well. During the first half of the year I was in a very difficult work situation. I continued to try to ‘bite off’ the whole problem at once and it seemed to get worse every time I tried to do that. Finally, not out of enlightenment but frustration, I just threw up my hands and stopped trying to ‘fix’ the problems all at once. I turned the situation completely over to God and just asked that HE give me bites that I could handle when I could handle them. The job situation didn’t get better, but I did feel a sense of calm and confidence that I could handle each day’s bite. It wasn’t long until a door opened for a new opportunity that has led to a new career that is the most rewarding and satisfying I’ve ever had professionally. I have brought the ‘one bite at a time’ mentality along with me to the new job and I have seen tangible results from this approach.

What I’ve learned from all of this and have seen results with over the last 6 months is that you need to just focus on eating what is in front of you each day. There is no need to try to take a bigger portion because you feel great today and there is no need to worry about how big the problems or opportunities are going to be tomorrow and shy away from what is on your plate today. All I can do is focus on the moment, eat what the good Lord puts in front of me each day, and remember that life is marathon training and can’t be done all at once.

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