Baseball metaphors sometimes come to mind when I think about life. Today I thought about our own personal best at the plate; our individual home plates. It isn’t easy to stand up and swing not knowing what pitch is coming towards you. You may have others on base, counting on you to bring them home. You may be trying to salvage the inning and provide at least a chance of staying in the game. You may be discouraged, wishing you could just stay in the batter’s box, pretending to be engaged, but not really needing to perform. Worst of all, you may be on the DL, self-imposed or otherwise, just sitting on the sideline of your life, watching and feeling helpless to assist.
There are many pitches that can come our way; fastballs, curveballs, breaking balls; and some batters develop a true skill when it comes to dealing with them. They hone their instincts and skills to notice the way the pitcher holds the ball, plants his legs, and can almost see the pitch coming before it arrives. Of all the balls that pitchers and life can hurl our way, none seem quite as bewildering as the changeup.
The changeup may not be thrown often, and not all pitchers can deliver it well, but when it comes at you it is often quite by surprise. It looks like a fastball, or something we have seen a dozen times over in an “I’ve got this” kind of way. If thrown correctly, the changeup will confuse the batter because he cannot discern that the ball is coming significantly slower than a fastball. The batter swings as if a 90-mph pitch is coming at him, only to find it was 75 mph, causing him to swing much too early. It’s reduced speed and deceptive delivery is meant to throw off the batter’s timing, despite his knowledge. It does the same thing in our lives as we stand at our plates in disbelief that something so familiar has caught us so off guard.
When you experience the changeup, it can leave you feeling perplexed, discouraged and filled with self-doubt. You may have left runners on base, caused an inning to end, or even have lost what you perceive as a very important game. Don’t lose heart! Everyone swings and misses; your team mates, coaches, managers, children, spouses, friends. Each has shared the space “on deck” and felt the pressure of coming to the plate. The important thing is that you KEEP SWINGING.
The beauty of the game, and of life itself, is that sometime during the rotation you WILL get up to the plate again. It’s another chance, a fresh start, a new pitcher, and the possibility for a much different outcome! Some may choose to stay in the batter’s box or on the sidelines forever, for fear of the swing and miss. Don’t be that player.
Step up to the plate, discern the best that you can, and swing. The changeups will eventually come your way, but if you pick up your bat, plant your feet and give your all, hitting the home run will be that much sweeter.