I was a bad dad today.
Bottom of the last inning, my son’s team is up six runs.
New pitcher comes in. Gives up five runs without getting an out.
Tying run at third. Winning run at second.
Intentionally walk the bases loaded, bring in a new pitcher, instruct our infielders to play in and throw home on any ground ball.
First batter: strikeout.
Second batter: strikeout.
Instruct the infielders to move back. Get the easiest out at any base.
Third batter: popup between short and third base, closer to the third basemen. Easy catch for the third out. Easy catch to win the game.
My son is the shortstop. He’s drifting over. The third basemen has a better angle on the ball. Four coaches (myself the loudest) start screaming at the boys “call it!”. They both do. Neither of them can hear the other. My son jumps up. Their gloves bump into each other. The ball ricochets off one of the gloves and goes behind them. Runners at third and second score.
I take three bounding steps towards third base, eyes blazing, and yell, “That’s it. That just lost us the game.”
I can’t believe I said it. I can’t believe I did it.
I was a bad dad today.
. . .
Church and Life can be better. If you go to the homepage on my website, it’s the first thing you’ll read.
I’ve been thinking about the second half of that sentence a lot since that game. If you want to believe life can be better, you have to recognize that it’s not perfect now. And, frankly, I’m just not very good at that.
Social media is, of course, the purest example of this. If my son’s team wins the championship, I’ll post a picture of us all smiling. They lose a tough game, I flip my lid and act like an ass, am I posting about it on Facebook? Of course not. (Apparently I’m writing about it on my blog though. . .)
So here it is: Sometimes I’m a bad dad. Sometimes I’m a bad husband. Sometimes I’m lazy at work. Sometimes the people in my life hurt me. Sometimes I hurt myself by eating too much, or swearing too much, or falling to the same sins over and over again. People I love have killed themselves. People I love are dying of cancer. I’m really scared about work and finances right now.
In so many ways, I wish life was better.
In so many ways, I wish I was better.
So sometimes I need to be reminded:
Church and Life can be better.
Life can be better. It’s more than just a tagline. It’s more than a catch phrase. It’s a core belief. It’s an organizing principle.
I believe life can be better. I believe I can be better. I do not believe it’s going to happen overnight. I do not believe it’s going to happen by magic. But I believe it can happen. I believe God can make it happen.
God’s done a lot in my life (Understatement of the Century Award goes to. . . ). More than any of you will ever know. It’s a miracle I’m where I am and doing what I’m doing. The credit goes completely to Him, and not at all to me.
And when I stop, and I remember where He has brought me from, I am reminded: It’s all going to get better. He is going to make it better.
I need that reminder sometimes. And I need to be reminded to do something about that core belief.
What’s the best reminder that God’s going to make life better? For me, the answer is gratitude. If you’ve got something better, please shoot me an email or leave a comment and share it. But for me, the best way to remind myself that God is going to make life better is to look back at all the good work he has already done.
Gratitude. It’s one of those simple and life-changing things. Taking a few minutes, grabbing a real sheet of paper and a real pen, and writing down ten things that you are grateful for. Doing it every morning, and every night. It will absolutely change your life. And it’s so easy. It’s the ultimate reminder that God’s got this, and He is going to make life better.
But just because God’s got it doesn’t mean I’m off the hook. I need to work to be better too.
The way I behaved after that baseball game was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever done. I’m ashamed of it. And I never want to act that way again.
So I went and got a small pocket sized notebook, and I wrote down how I want to behave as a baseball coach. I closed my eyes, imagined myself as the incredible coach I want to be, and I wrote down what that person looked like.
You are going to be the emotional rock of the team. You will not react emotionally to the game. You will be calm and unfazed throughout the ups and downs of the game. When a kid makes a mistake you will not react. You will remember that mistakes are part of the game. If the mistake requires instruction, you will do it after the game, in private. You will never raise your voice. You will be the quietest person on the field. You will praise good performance in a simple way. You will be reassuring to the kids. They will never fear you. They will never fear how you will react when they make a mistake. You will encourage the kids to play with joy and respect.
It’s not a perfect list. I wrote it down never thinking anyone would read it but me. But that’s what I wrote. And before the next game, I kept that small notebook in my back pocket. I read that page in the morning when I made the lineup. I read that page in the car when I arrived at the park. I read that page after warm ups, right before first pitch. I read that page before the start of every half inning.
And guess what.
I was better.
I was a bad dad and a bad coach, but I got better.
Life can be better.
My name is Dominick Albano and I'm an author, speaker, and consultant.