That was my nickname in elementary school.
It’s not meant to be flattering.
You see, every Friday afternoon in 6th grade, we would take time off from our studies, we’d leave the stuffy confines of the classroom, and go outside to play softball.
I had kind of a love/hate thing with Fridays.
I loved it because we girls got to wear pants to play softball. Yes, these were the days when wearing anything other than a dress or skirt to school was taboo (if you were a girl – somehow, because of the current trends in fashion, I felt that I needed to clarify that…)
So, the teacher would dismiss the girls about 10 minutes before “softball time” to go and change into PANTS!!
Yes – but I also hated Fridays.
Why? Because I was terrible at softball.
Every time I would get up to bat, EVERYONE would "play shallow." The outfielders would move WAY in – almost to the baselines. The shortstop would pull up even with the pitcher. All of this “jockeying around” was unnecessary really. I almost ALWAYS struck out.
It was customary to do a little “trash talking” – hence, I became “Flower Hitter.”
“Hey, batter, batter – C’mon, “Flower Hitter” – see if you can get it to me. Swing, batter, batter. Awww, “Flower Hitter” struck out…”
Evidently, in those un-politically correct days, such heckling was not considered bullying, hazing, or cruel.
But, it hurt…a lot. (Got your hankies out?!)
This stigma stuck with me. I love sports – I really am a fanatic – but to this day, I’ve never been much of a baseball fan.
Fast forward to college.
A bunch of people in our college group at church thought it would be great fun to play…softball…on Sunday afternoons. Oh boy… I thought my “Flower Hitter” days had been pressed tightly between the pages of the past – never to be resurrected again!
What to do?
I asked my best friend, Jim, if he would meet me at the park a couple of hours ahead of time. He agreed. And, special friend that he was, he patiently pitched ball after ball at me – coaching me on the intricacies of hand-eye coordination.
I started connecting – I started to have confidence.
And then…it was game time.
My first “up” was scary. Everyone scooted in. I started hearing the voices again from my past. “Flower Hitter” was here…
I whiffed the first two pitches…
But then I looked over at my friend, and he gave me a “thumbs up” and a great big ol’ smile.
I steeled myself, I squared my shoulders, I planted my feet – the ball came in – and I SWUNG…
The sweetest sound ever heard!
I ran like a banshee around first, and came into second base standing up! A solid DOUBLE!!
I can’t remember my hitting average that day, but I do know this. No one played shallow anymore when I came up to bat. “Flower Hitter” meant something different now. It meant I could hit a ball to where the flowers grew in the outfield!
My spiritual lesson in all this?
It’s the lesson of how to approach life. There are many challenges we face as believers. We’re called “up to bat” so often. And the enemy is right there – heckling, jeering, taunting, bullying. He tells his little devil team to "play shallow." This one’s a “flower hitter,” he cackles.
But we can beat this guy!
Do what I did –
1. Ask for help. “I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41:10)
2. Practice, practice, practice. “Forgetting the past…I press on to reach the
end of the race…” (Philippians 3:13-14)
3. Have a buddy to cheer you on. “The church…became stronger…And with
the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew…” (Acts 9:31)
Before you know it, we’ll be “hittin’ taters!”
BLOG = “Blessedly Leaning On God!”