Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Reflections from the Home Team September 13, 2017

“Fear and anxiety often come from uncertainty, and uncertainty can indicate a lack of confidence… That lack of confidence comes from not having a plan in place along with the support needed to deal with a challenge.”

Greetings from Cedar Falls!

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for me. Lots of happenings in my life, most all of them good! Some recent lab work had some marginal numbers regarding my immune system, which appear to be an ongoing “gift” of the chemo cocktail used to help put me in remission.  It appears that will be an ongoing challenge to monitor, and after visiting with my doctors, I feel comfortable we will stay on top of it.  I may need to be careful when kissing those granddaughters of mine!

I’ve also been blessed with having the opportunity recently to visit with a number of groups about the thoughts I’ve shared in my book, Reflections from the Home TeamGo the Distance. One common thread in many of those conversations was the fear, anxiety and self-pity that can often accompany a cancer journey, or for that matter, any of the worldly issues that are confronting many of us now. Whether they be natural disasters such as Hurricanes, threats such as those coming out of North Korea; or personal disasters such as a young person taking their own life here in Cedar Falls recently, or the tragic loss of a high school classmate. During those difficult times, fear, anxiety and self-pity can often play a role. That leads me to this reflection.

I go back a long way with fear and anxiety… not just the fear and anxiety that comes with experiencing the cancer journey, but with the fear and anxiety that was often a part of my baseball journey as both a player and a coach. Baseball tends to help us learn to deal with our fears and anxieties more than any other sport.  Those fears may include things such as someone else being a better player, taking your place in the line up.  Of course, this can be a common fear in any sport. Other fears can include the fear of striking out, being hit in the face with a pitch or a bounding ground ball, as well as fear of injury. Whether it is hitting, fielding or pitching, this concern has certainly been a part of baseball since its' inception, over 170 years ago. Without a doubt, if you have played baseball at any level, including in your “neighborhood park”, you have experienced some of these fears. All are real and legitimate.

So how do we help players move beyond the “paralysis level”, to the aggressive, “take charge” level, in their baseball life? By providing them with the skills to manage their fear and anxiety, we can take a big step in moving forward while decreasing their vulnerability. Some or all of the following comments may sound familiar as you’ve wrestled with fear and anxiety when facing some of the challenges that have been “tossed” your way.

“Put it out of your mind”…

“Don't think about it”…

“Jump right in there”…

“Don't rub it”…

“Take one for the team”…

The list goes on; unfortunately, none of those suggestions will do anything to help the situation. Fear and anxiety often come from uncertainty, and uncertainty can indicate a lack of confidence… That lack of confidence comes from not having a plan in place along with the support needed to deal with a challenge.

I’ve found through personal experience in both my cancer journey and “baseball life” that by allowing others into my life to help me develop a plan to deal with the challenges I’m facing has been a very powerful tool in helping me gain confidence, a positive mindset and the skills needed to overcome those challenges. Deuteronomy 31:8 speaks to this… "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Even when focusing on those comforting words, our feelings often fail to submit to the logic of that thought. David, who was both a strong warrior and gifted poet, often expressed fearfulness, trembling and horror in his psalms. Despite that, he also expressed genuine and deep trust in God who he knew would be at his side through all of it. His life and his writing demonstrate that fear does not "trump" trust. They can coexist. It led David to proclaim, "When I am afraid, I will trust in You."

When fear or anxiety enter our hearts, we need to understand it is a very human emotion. We can acknowledge it and affirm our trust in God, which can bring us comfort and hope. We can also place our trust in our own personal “Home Teams” which can include a medical team, family, friends and co-workers. To me, these are comforting thoughts as we move forward on our life's journey which often includes a few “bumps in the road!”  

Jon Gordon shared a wonderful piece in a recent post that speaks to my heart about how we can deal with fear and anxiety in a constructive way when faced with life’s challenges…

                            FEAR NOT!

There's a hurricane headed your way. Fear not!
You'll likely lose power. Fear not!
You're not sure what the future holds. Fear not!
You're not sure how the meeting went. Fear not!
You're waiting on the medical report. Fear not!
You're getting ready for the big game. Fear not!
You might lose your job. Fear not!
You don't know what college you will go to. Fear not!
Your parents are getting a divorce. Fear not!
You don't think the interview went well. Fear not!
They're putting a lot of pressure on you. Fear not!
You may not hit your numbers. Fear not!
There's a lot of chaos in the world. Fear not!

Fear not doesn't mean you take reckless action.
Fear not doesn't mean you ignore the reality of the situation.
Fear not doesn't mean you make stupid decisions. 
Fear not doesn't mean you don't prepare.
Fear not doesn't mean you don't care. 
Fear not doesn't mean you don't feel fear.
Fear not means you let go and know you're not in control.
Fear not means you don't let fear consume you.
Fear not means you don't let fear guide you.
Fear not means you don't let fear paralyze you.
Fear not means you don't let fear sabotage your health.
Fear not means you won't let fear steal your future.
Fear not means your trust is greater than your fear.
Fear not means you move forward with faith.
Fear not means you have hope today.
Fear not means you still dream about tomorrow.
Fear not means you believe the best is yet to come.
-       Jon

What a wonderful “set of skills” to help deal with the fears and anxieties
that often get tossed our way!  At times, we also can experience the "bottomless pit" of self-pity when faced with difficult times. Once we fall into it, following our past or present struggles, it can really contaminate our view of the future.

Our way out of that pit is to look up and see the Light of God’s presence shining down on us no matter what the struggles may be we are facing. I know I have struggled at times with self-pity, asking God and myself why I have been subjected to some serious health issues in recent years. That is when I need to focus on God, trusting Him to help me overcome the mire of self-pity that can cling to us during challenging times. Actually, I think God uses our times of neediness to remind us we need to depend totally on Him.

Sure, it is sad when things change, like our health, or the aches and pains of getting older...  or when we have to say goodbye to the people we love. Seems to be happening more all the time… But one thing is certain... we can always hold onto our memories. Nothing lasts longer than a happy memory, and they last a lifetime.

Wishing you all a wonderful life journey, enjoying the good things God has in store for each of us.

In Christ’s Love and Comfort…


For those who may be interested, you can also find my blog posts and book at the website below.

I have truly enjoyed signing and personalizing copies of my book for a number of people through the Reflections website. I am hopeful it has helped develop in those who read it a positive mindset, while realizing the importance of staying connected as each of us face life’s difficult challenges.

“Reflections from the Home Team… Go the Distance” website:

“Reflections from the Home Team” Facebook page: