I did something I’ve never done before this morning. I tuned into our local sports radio station – on purpose – and listened to it all morning.
As we drove toward the elementary school, my oldest daughter (and recent Royals superfan) said, “Soooo…they’re just replaying the game from last night, right?”
Yep. Practically on a loop, the station played the announcers giving the score of the fifth game in the World Series as the ninth inning began: two to zero. And then they played the exclamations as the Royals scored two runs, tying up the game and sending it into extra innings. Next on the city’s new soundtrack was the incredible five-run inning and the third out of that last inning. And the crowd – and my people in my car – went wild!
Over and over, with grins I could hear through the speakers, the morning show deejays replayed and relived the game and the win. They gushed and celebrated and recounted the whole thing, again.
And as I dropped off daughter number two – and listened to them tell the story one more time, I found myself not just wiping away a tear or two but swallowing an entire sob. A SOB.
Guys? I don’t really like baseball. I mean, I love the IDEA of baseball, of the patriotism and team spirit and of all the myths and legends and dreams come true. And movies. Don’t forget the baseball movies. I might find a ball game a bore, but give me a Sandlot, an A League of Their Own, a Field of Dreams, a Moneyball or even a Trouble with the Curve any day!
Baseball itself, though, has never been my favorite sport. So why on earth was I sobbing in my car as I listened to yet another reply and interview about the Royals’ World Series win?
Because the Royals give me hope.
Hope is such a fragile thing. The tiniest glimmer can sustain us and propel us into action – or at least save us from curling up on the couch with a bag of chips and the remote. But once crushed, once it’s reached its final breath, hope will disappear in a puff of disappointment. The thing that was keeping us vertical, pushing our lungs in and out, moving one foot in front of the other – gone, just like that!
And it matters. Hope is crucial. We may have courage and grit, but if we don’t have hope – for a change, for a win, for a miracle – it can be near impossible to move forward when we’re faced with adversity. Without hope even the strongest believer can falter, wondering if there’s a point in one more try.
So we hold tight to any hope we can muster or find or receive. We watch underdog stories and read fairy tale endings, and we hope. If it can happen to them, maybe it can happen to me.
A couple weeks ago I was sucker punched. Just smacked right in the gut, in the heart, in the hope-holder. I discovered that someone I thought was firmly in my corner was, essentially, betting against me. I found out that someone who was supposed to be on my team isn’t wearing our team colors or waving our flag or anything else that might work with this metaphor.
[Now before you bombard me with alarmed emails and comments, this situation is a professional one, not a personal one. But since I’ve yet to master a separation between heart and work, it still stings. A lot.]
In the days since that realization I’ve struggled. I didn’t realize how much I was struggling, though, until I watched another post-season game and cried about the Royals pulling out a mind-blowing comeback.
See, I’d raged and yelled and vented all over the place when I was first hurt. But then I rallied, I gathered my troops, and I got back to work. Because I won’t let them beat me; I’ll work ’round the clock if I need to, because I’m not going to let myself lose. Except, no win is ever guaranteed (just ask the Mets…) and all my work could be for naught in the end.
Despite the excitement of Sunday night’s World Series win, I went to bed distraught and discouraged, convinced I couldn’t possibly work hard enough to make a difference. I even had bad dreams about failures that seemed completely plausible in the early morning dark.
But then I woke up. And I remembered my friend’s Facebook post from the night before. In the midst of celebratory memes and giddy selfies and status updates full of all caps and delirious emoticons, my friend shared one verse that seemed out of place in the moment but was exactly what I needed just hours later: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
And then I turned on sports radio and listened to those Kansas City underdogs win, again and again and again. I listened to the announcers remind us of how many years it had been since this happened, how frustrated our town has been with year after year of laughably losing teams, how patient the management has been to build a team that is loved and admired and, now, awarded for their hard work and good nature.
As the tears raced down my face and I laugh-sobbed at my sentimental self, I found that glimmer of hope I’d been missing the night before.
I may not have scored a single run for eight innings and some of my fair weather fans may have tuned out and gone to bed, but just like the Royals, my game isn’t over. I still have a chance – and I still have a hope.
If you’re struggling today, can I encourage you? I won’t force you to watch a baseball game or to root for my team. But take a minute to remember ANY underdog story, ANY unexpected comeback, ANY last-minute miracle. Watch a ball game, rent a movie, read a book or listen to a Bible story. Miracles happen. The little guy can beat the giant. The loser can turn it around and come back. And so can you.
I don’t know what you’re facing this Monday, what giants are standing in your way. I don’t know who’s bailed on you, decided you’re a lost cause, left you alone and let you down. But I know that there is hope for you.
No matter what’s happened up to this moment, all is not lost. You are never too far gone, too messed up, or a lost cause. As long as you have a tomorrow (or another inning), you have hope.
And you are loved by the source of all hope: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
What are you hoping for today?
This post may be linked to these amazing carnivals and link parties.