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you can’t lose

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Bottom of the third. First game of our biggest tournament of the season. 9-1 lead. As the Dirt Dawgs take the field, the coaching braintrust decides to save our starting pitcher’s arm, so I tell the pitcher to move to second and Nathan to take the mound.

At this point, I should note that Nathan had never  pitched in a game. In fact, he’d only thrown about 20 pitches off a mound after practice as we were messing around to see if he could do it. So telling him he was going to pitch in a big game was first, shocking and second, terrifying.

After I got back to the dugout, I turned around to watch him warm up and saw him in a near panic as he was giving his name to the umpire and getting ready to throw his warm-up pitches. To head off the impending meltdown, I jogged back out to the mound to explain the situation to my 9 year old little man.

“We’re up 8, the most they can score is 7 (this tourney had a run per inning rule). No matter what you do, you can’t lose this game. You can’t fail.”

The shoulders relax. The grin comes out. Now we’re ready to play ball.

First batter – hits the first pitch hard back to the mound. Nathan fields it clean and throws him out. 1 pitch, 1 out. The grin gets bigger.
Second batter –  bunts for a hit. Then scores on the next pitch as he steals second and gets around on a error.
Third batter – strikes out on 5 pitches. The grin is now so big I’m afraid he’s going to trip over it.
Fourth better – grounds out to 3rd.

Four batters, 13 pitches, 3 outs, we win. Nathan runs off the field and jumps into my arms, convinced that this pitching thing is easy.

As I think about it (with probably an unhealthy amount of pride), I’m struck by the power that comes from understanding that there is no way to fail. Fear turns to confidence. Freedom and faith break out. Tears are swallowed by a grin that just keeps growing. Confidence gained yields a greater willingness to risk again.

What if the Church created space for dreamers to go big, but with a safety net beneath them, just in case? What if success wasn’t measured in results, but rather attempts?

What would you tackle if you knew you couldn’t lose?

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