Wednesday was a well-planned day. I had a lot to do, most of which involved my being in my car. There were visits to make, a breakfast meeting to attend, a hospital room to visit, items to transport from one place to another, a guitar to take to the church so that I could do a song or two for the noon service ... well, you get the idea.
All went well until I put the key in the ignition of the Toyota Camry and experienced ... nothing. The battery was apparently dead. I did not figure this into my plans. Normally this is not such a problem since I have jumper cables but, with the wife already gone to work, and nary a neighbor in sight, I was in a bit of a fix.
Normally, I can just get on my Harley-Davidson and finish out the day but there were two problems: (1) Thunderstorms were predicted, and (2) there’s only so much one can carry on a motorcycle. Life had thrown me an unexpected curve ball.
According to one source, “the curve ball is a type of pitch in baseball thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball causing it to dive in a downward path as it approaches the plate. The ‘curve’ of the ball varies from pitcher to pitcher.” It is considered an advanced pitch and, for most batters, is difficult to hit.
Outside the context of baseball, variants of the expression “to throw a curve ball” essentially translate to “introducing a significant deviation to a preceding concept.” My concept was that my day was all planned out. The dead battery changed all that.
Life, it seems, is always throwing us curve balls. The unexpected happens so often that you’d think we’d come to expect it, but we don’t. For some people, curve balls are devastating — they just can’t handle the change or the unexpected so they slip into self-pity, depression or anger. They allow their whole day, or their whole life, for that matter, to be wrecked. This is not the solution.
As every batter knows, you can’t choose your pitches. Whatever pitch is flung at you, that becomes your pitch. It’s what you do with it that matters.
In the Bible, King David was in great mourning when, after a rebellion led by his son Absalom, the son was dead and his kingdom was in tatters. A wise general pointed out to David that, though he had lost much, he needed to count what he had left and build from there. Good advice for all who have experienced the unexpected.
In my case, since my car wouldn’t move and allow me the freedom to do what I had planned, I decided to work from home, write letters and cards, catch up on other correspondence, make phone calls, try to answer overdue emails, work on Sunday’s sermon, and write a column on “Curve Balls.” It’s not what I had planned, but I decided to adjust to the new reality.
When life pitches a curve ball, stand at the plate anyway, adjust as best you can, and swing away. Give it your best effort and make something happen. Maybe you will hit it out of the park—maybe not. But to give in to self-pity, or anger or depression and refuse to try at all is simply to walk away from the game and choose to be a loser.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]