There is a story of a little boy who goes into his back yard with a baseball and bat.
He declared loudly, “I am the greatest hitter in the world” then promptly tossed the ball in the air. When the ball came down, he swung as hard as he could and…missed. “Strike one,” he said. He then tossed the ball in the air and swung again trying to swing with more strength and determination this time. “Strike two” he shouted as he swung and missed again. Regaining his composure, he tossed the ball a third time, and a third time he swung and missed. “Strike three!” He declared and promptly followed that with, “I am the greatest pitcher in the world!” (1)
We can all be like this little boy and all take a lesson from him. In our world right now, there are many external circumstances that do not go the way we want today. COVID, racial tensions, political unrest, financial instability, etc. Anyone of these is a gigantic issue. Add to these whatever issues are going on in your personal and family life. Yet, these stressors are the adult versions of the boy in the backyard. There seems to be a world full of maddening swings and misses, things which are causing dramatic changes to our culture and world circumstances. These are external factors out of our control.
What then, can we control? The easier-said-than-done answer may be, we can control our perspective and response to those externals. Our perspective does not need to be pessimistic, defeatist, or even hostile. We can determine ourselves to press on through the stress and world events which can be wildly out of control with a healthy and non-fatalistic view.
This is not to minimize or devalue the fact that things can be anxiety causing or flat out depressing. If that is your story presently, don’t give up. Take a few minutes this day to consider your perspective. This is hard to do in hard circumstances but worth the effort. If not right away, persistence and a positive perspective will eventually bring about healthy change.
When my children were little and got frightened or stressed out, I would tell them something simple: “look at my face” (Not because I think I am the most handsome guy around) because of what I would say next: “Do I look scared to you?” Even if I was a little scared myself, I would show them the calmest face in control of my mood, perspective, and attitude. I would tell them, “if I don’t look scared then you don’t have to be. It will be alright”. When I would remember to do this, it seemed to usually aid the situation and restore a more controlled environment. What do the people around you see when they look at you or hear you talk about the wild circumstances of the world or in your life? Your approach is contagious! Perhaps we cannot change the dramatic stressors of this world or even in our own surroundings, but we do have control over our responses to them. This can actually bring about order in those around us.
People are watching and learning from you. People can grow in strength and courage from your responses to the externals. Then some days when your strength and attitude are weak, they can be a model of a healthy attitude to you!
So if it feels like strike three, then be the greatest pitcher in your world!