For those of you who don’t know, the story of my life is softball. For a decade, I planned to make it my everything, and gave it up when I found out there was a better everything.
Giving it up was the hardest decision of my life.
And the best.
Tonight (Saturday), I was planning on trying out a new (ish – I’ve been there once before) church. I looked the church up online, and headed over to where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there.
They never showed.
I don’t really get upset about things like that, so I got back in my car and decided to get Panda Express, a movie, and some dark chocolate gelato and have a night to myself.
The movie I picked out was called How Do You Know. I was pretty sure it was a romantic comedy. It has Reese Witherspoon and two guy actors (I’m never up to date on celebrities) who’re the love interests. Jack Nicholson is in it too.
So… the movie starts out by introducing us to Reese Witherspoon’s character, who is an Olympian second baseman. They had real Olympic softball players in a few of the scenes (which was awesome), and they showed a little bit of actual softball stuff.
*Of course the critic in me hated that they had a second baseman covering 3rd in infield drills and that she answered her phone in the middle of it… AND that her bag was on the third base line, AND that the third baseman was wearing knee pads (doesn’t happen much after junior high and certainly not at practice).
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…
The thing that made it hard to quit playing softball was that I truly had made it my everything. Right before I quit, I blocked out my days, and I was spending 7 hours a day practicing, weight-lifting, conditioning, pitching, and doing extra BP. The only non-softball stuff I did was attend classes, but the coaches would even make appearances there to check in and make sure I was where I was supposed to be. Forget that I’d graduated high school with multiple AP credits. Of course writing 101 was going to trip me up. Yeah, I’m still a little bitter about how student-athletes get babied academically. By the way, my advisor tried to talk me out of taking Physics my freshman year because most student athletes can’t handle such a difficult class. In case you were wondering, I got an ‘A’ just to spite her. Some of the other girls were ineligible, so I get why they treated me like a moron, but still.
Anyways, quitting softball was weird, because I didn’t have anything else.
I had to (or possibly got to) completely redefine myself.
Which is mostly scary and a little awesome.
In the movie, Reese Witherspoon is cut from the Olympic team because of age… and she has to redefine herself.
Beyond the funny things Witherspoon says and does that are totally athlete things – like when she controls her emotions, when she directly communicates things that women are rarely direct about, when she analyzes her actions and can’t stop trying to improve, when she wants the guy who’s going to be insensitive (not just chooses him, but chooses him for his insensitivity), when she talks about marriage and kids as if she could take them or leave them, etc… – beyond those things that I say and do just like her, I really just related to her mourning the loss of more than just something she loved… mourning the loss of herself,
because she knew she’d never be that person again, and she had to throw herself completely into whatever person she would be for the future.
I’m sort of redefining myself right now.
And I’m not as scared as I was when I quit softball, because I’ve had a few redefining moments since then, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that there’s a little fear here.
I was at my church for 6 years.
And I throw myself at God as completely as I threw myself at softball, the context of which for the past 6 years has been my Crossing church
with the same 15 faces for years.
And as much as people keep saying that we’re still friends…
I know they’re wrong.
I don’t hang out with a single softball player anymore.
Granted, it’s been 7 years since I quit, but every single one of them said we’d still be friends.
And some of us were for awhile, but it takes serious effort to maintain a friendship, and some of my church friends and I will make that effort, but most won’t.
It’ll happen slowly. Just as redefining oneself happens slowly.
But it will happen.
People who were SO important… people who were my family…
will cease to fill my life.
And even though it hurts,
One last thought: (Reese Witherspoon’s character said this)
“I don’t know if I have what it takes for everybody’s regular plan.”
That’s the thing about redefining self – most people redefine themselves as they hit those next steps in everyone’s normal plan. Husband/wife, mommy/daddy, the next rung on the corporate ladder, etc…
I don’t know if I have what it takes for everybody’s regular plan.
So maybe my plan isn’t going to be the regular one.
Also okay. But scary.