I’m told a baseball player standing at home plate preparing to bat anticipates and is prepared for the fastball. Expecting a fastball, however, won’t make one a great hitter. They must learn to hit other types of pitches such as the curve ball. The batter looks for visual clues as early as possible; hopefully recognizing what’s coming before the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. Unlike baseball, in life there’s no visual clue for an incoming curveball. You can’t duck em, dodge em, or see em coming. One minute all is right with the world and the next wham! Curveballs hit us in various ways. Some leave a bruise or two and others, like the one which hit me last week, are “wind-knockers” (knock the wind right of you).
The 4 steps listed below will help one gain footing after being hit with a curveball.
- First and foremost … breathe. Take time, step back, and allow the severity of the situation to become clear. Pain, fear, anger, confusion, a whole host of emotions will surge within. As a Christian praying is a necessity. Sometimes we get angry with God; after all he’s God isn’t he? Where was he when this Curveball was heading my way? Don’t be afraid to take that anger to Him; it’s not a sin. He’s strong enough to hear your anger. And the reality… God‘s aware of your anger already.
- Clarify truth: I ask the question what is the truth in this situation. Defining and clarifying the situation helps put my emotions into proper alignment. Having a proper perspective helps to ease the confusion and brings a sense of balance. Feeling like one’s world is spinning out of control is not comfortable. This step’s key to combating that perception. Knowing the truth keeps one focused instead of bouncing around like a ping-pong ball of confusion.
- Assess resources and ability: We all have resources already on hand. Assess what you have and explore what other resources may be helpful. Assess what you are able to do within this situation and where, when and with what you might need help.
- Call in the troops: Share your situation with a trusted friend or family member. Choose wisely. You want someone to come alongside; not take control or make light of your situation. You’ve just been hit with a curveball that’s left you feeling vulnerable. You want a friend who will allow you the feelings you’re feeling, right or wrong. A friend who will listen and support you with words of encouragement and who isn’t afraid, as the saying goes, to get their hands dirty. A person who reminds you of your strengths. A person who shore’s you up and keeps the firelight of hope burning. A friend who reminds you of the truth and reassures you- – – you are not alone! You will get through.
Let me unashamedly suggest if you’re not a person who believes in prayer, call and ask someone who does, to pray for you. It couldn’t hurt 🙂
The following is an example of what the steps above might look like on the practical side.
It’s annual physical time. You’ve not been experiencing any health challenges, nada, zilch, nothing unusual. Routine labs and some precautionary, standard tests, are ordered. You return to the doctor’s office, as previously scheduled for the results. Planning to hear the news, “Everything’s good”, you hear instead, “I’m referring you to an oncologist, you have Cancer”. That’s a “wind-knocker” curveball. Our ears hear cancer; our mind hears I’m dying”. We leave the doctor’s office shell-shocked. Time to “Breathe” as you internalize all the information. Fear begins to rise … breathe… step back… don’t jump to conclusions, just breathe.
Breathing restored to normal rhythm, we ask, “What’s the truth – the reality of the situation”. I have cancer. I’m not terminal. I have options. I will have a successful plan of action in place as I move forward. By asking, “What’s the truth?” we’ve gone from I’m dying to, “The odds are in my favor this is not insurmountable, a good plan of action will be in place; I will be okay”.
What resources and abilities are available? Excellent physicians, good support system, a friend who’s traveled a similar road. What else might help? A trip to the local library to learn more about the illness might be in order. Start a list of all your resources and those you may need further down the road. This is a good time to start the list, “People I need to contact and items I need answers to”. For instance, contacting one’s insurance company to review coverage options (no one finds peace when blindsided by finances).
Sharing your challenge with friends you ask them to pray. You share ways in which they may help. Needs such as someone to watch the kids, help with housework, perhaps a meal or two, or someone you call at 3:30am when you’re gripped with fear, etc.
While the above example is purely fictional, similar stories happen every day. The steps outlined will work in a variety of situations.
Curveballs … while we can’t avoid them, they don’t need to knock us out of the game.
Until next time,