Do I play baseball or am I a baseball player?
When I was 12 years old, my baseball coach brought us together at the end of practice one day and gave us a question to think about that night. He asked us, "What are you? Are you kids who play baseball or are you baseball players?" It was a pretty deep question for a 12-year-old to ponder that night. I struggled at first to think about what was the difference between the two. But eventually I started to realize that a baseball player would spend their day differently than somebody who just played baseball. He would practice on his own - not just on the days of organized team practices. He would read about baseball, watch baseball games, and be excited about various professional baseball players. So I decided to become a baseball player. Several other members of the team did as well. And an amazing thing happened. We played better, we had a lot more fun, and we enjoyed our identity as baseball players. It was amazing how making that shift from being a kid who just played baseball to being a baseball player changed my life.
Fast forward a dozen years and I was starting my psychological internship at Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base. There were eight of us interns starting the year long set of rotations. I decided to have a short conversation with some of my fellow interns about the question "Are we going to be psychologists who are in the Air Force or are we going to be Air Force psychologists?" For some of them, it resonated and they made the decision to become Air Force psychologists - not just psychologists who happen to be in the Air Force. For those of us who made that choice, the internship year was fun, rewarding, and we had a lot more passion for what we were doing. The other interns were not as happy as we were and they quickly looked for work outside of the Air Force. It was amazing the difference in how happy we were and how much we enjoyed that year when we embraced our identities and roles as Air Force psychologists.
Not all stories continue on a successful path. Mine was one of those that got off track. I forgot to use those early life lessons when I was in my first marriage - yes, first marriage. As I look back on my first marriage it was obvious that I was a man who was married but I was not acting as a married man. I made decisions that were more about my benefit versus the benefit of our marriage. I didn’t go through each day thinking what would a married man do in my situation. I made many, many mistakes and destroyed what was a very wonderful relationship with a very nice woman.
I realized that I did not want do that again. I am now in a marriage to a wonderful woman. From the start, I made the decision that I would live every day, every moment, as a married man - not just a man who was in a marriage. Now, I start each day of my marriage asking myself "What would a happily married man do today for his wife and his family?" I do my best (failing at times) to make decisions focused on them, not just on me. And as a result, the two of us are very happy together, we rarely argue, we can openly discuss disagreements, our children know we love them, and I am no longer distracted by activities or people who would take me away from my role as a married man.
Now, at 53 years old, I started to look a lot closer at my spiritual life. I found that I was spending too much time acting as a man who was a Christian and an enough time acting as a Christian man. Yes, I went to church (some weekends). We had prayers before meals. We celebrated Christian holidays. However, I was only living part-time (very part-time) as a Christian man. I had allowed a lot of other distractions in life (money, career, entertainment, leisure activities) to become more important and take up my time. I decided it was time for a change. My goal now is to first and foremost think to myself "What would a Christian man do in this situation?" I can honestly tell you that since making that change my daily life had gone through an amazing transformation. I am much more excited to start each day. My day starts and ends with Bible study. My mood has never been happier. I have much more clarity on how to make decisions. I have more compassion and patience for others. I pray to God many times a day - not out of distress - but out of thanks for his blessings and to ask Him to use me as He sees fit. My life is much happier and less stressed with my focus on what is most important - living in praise of God, loving Jesus, and loving my neighbors like God loves me. I'm overjoyed as I look forward to my future as a Christian man and a married man. If I could bottle this feeling and give it to you, I would!!!