Of Burdens, Blessings and Baseball

by Katie Smylie

April 18, 2018

Child playing baseball

Growing up, the folks in my family played or watched every sport in the history of mankind. I am telling you—if there was no football or baseball to watch, my father would watch fishing or bowling. Anything to be a part of a competitive sport.

But baseball. Baseball was my favorite. I could get pretty worked up over a football game, but I loved the sights, the smells and the camaraderie of baseball. Some of my favorite memories happened with my father at baseball games. He taught me his abiding sense of baseball justice and loyalty: Red Sox first, Pirates second, Yankees never.

It will not surprise you that I married a fellow baseball enthusiast. Kevin played high school baseball and was also a Red Sox fan. When we started having kids, we took them to Angels’ games and played with miniature baseball toys. Naturally, Steven’s first word was “ball.” At five years old, we signed him up to play t-ball and began to watch this generational love of the game develop and grow.

Unfortunately, the thrill of the game wore off in my new role as Baseball Mom. Our family also included a toddler and a baby at that point, so ball games were spent running back and forth from the game to the park, to the snack shack, to the potty and back to the park. The pockets of time when we could watch some baseball, we also had one eye on the bleachers to make sure no one fell through the cracks—literally! Suddenly, baseball was exhausting. Rather than a sense of passion, the game brought on anxiety, frustration and resentment. Something I used to love had become a burden.

And eventually, baseball was more than a burden; it was utter drudgery. Pack a bag, wash and gather the uniform, bring snacks, eat late dinners, load up the wagon and gear up for chasing toddlers. Then repeat that routine 25 times until Memorial Day. Not to mention how horrible I felt knowing that baseball was meant to be FUN. How could it be that as a mom, I was resentful and disliked this part of my child’s life and development? I cycled through so many emotions, feeling waves of overwhelm and guilt. I was frustrated with myself most of all.

It has been six years since I became a Baseball Mom. A few seasons back, the Spirit began to whisper to my heart. “Repent of your resentment. Open your eyes. See the people. See the joy. It’s right there on the field and in the bleachers.” Little by little, the fog lifted and I began to see. There in the stands, God was weaving stories and creating connections. He was teaching life lessons, providing comfort in disappointment and sitting with us in the belly laughs. My girls were making lifelong ‘baseball sister’ friends and so was I. God was giving opportunities to serve each other and to pay attention to His work. I realized that I did not choose baseball for our family, God did. He alone placed us on the Giants, the Twins and the A’s to be a reflection of His glory and to see His presence.

The love of the game is fully back in my heart. I am not less tired or even less overwhelmed, especially this year with TWO little sluggers in the house. And, did I mention that my husband is now playing in an adult softball league? Seriously. We are busy with baseball and busy taking part in the kingdom of God. My heart is now open to the chaos of a long baseball season and to the sacrifice of energy and wonky meal times. Truth be told, I have even come to terms with the idea that one of the boys may one day have to play for the Yankees. Lord, give me strength.

Drudgery sneaks in and sucks the life out of something that ought to make us smile. The days, weeks and months of putting one foot in front of the other have the power to steal every ounce of joy. Have you been stuck in the angst of the mundane—resentful and angry over the tasks set before you? Have the thankless work, the caring of loved ones, and the relentlessness of it all left you drained and longing for this season to end? It’s like trying to run through mud. Take a moment and know that I am praying for our loving God to wipe away the fog from your eyes. In His Spirit, I pray you will see His presence in the sacrificial routines of your life. That you will find joy and connection even in the overwhelm.

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 4:14-17 (NLT)

When she is not on the field, Katie is busy at home with her husband and four beautiful kids, Steven, Megan, Claire and Luke (pictured). She is also the director of the Pursuit Bible Study and is passionate about teaching God’s Word. Some of Katie’s favorites are a tasty breakfast, baking for her friends and spiritual conversation.