Thinking Good

I cringed as I watched the dad before me.

His son was up to bat, and his hands gripped the fence tightly in front of him. We had already observed his antics the previous time Micah* came to the plate, his yelling and the look of disgust over his face when his son propelled his entire body toward the ball, bat still, instead of just swinging.

You know the type. The dad who feels his son’s performance is a reflection of himself, even if we all are only watching a T-ball game full of five-year-olds.

So when this dad moved forward to watch Micah attempt to hit the ball, I cringed in anticipation of how he might react.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Micah surprisingly hit the ball off the tee, and we cheered in excitement. After all, the team rallied, and we were only a couple of runs behind. We could actually tie this game up.

But this little boy didn’t seem to understand the weight of his hit. No, instead of running to base, Micah decided to swing his arms around like he was a helicopter, bob his head from side to side, and kick up his legs slowly as he lolligagged over to base.

Everyone in the stands was laughing. Everyone, that is, except for Micah’s dad. The dad yelled through the fence, “RUN, MICAH! RUN!” And then he turned away in frustration when his son was thrown out by a mile (which rarely happens in T-ball).

I wished the dad could lighten up. I wished he could realize these kids are little; who cares if they don’t take the game seriously? Nobody thought he had failed as a father because his son stunk at T-ball. There would be plenty of time for truly competitive sports later.

I’m not sure if this father had any realizations that day, but I surprised myself with my own a few hours later in the car. I shared it that night as Matt and I met in the bathroom getting ready for bed.

“You know,” I said, “I really didn’t  like how Micah’s dad yelled at him during the game. I’m sure he made Micah nervous.”

“Oh, I didn’t notice.”

“Really? I thought he was pretty obnoxious. I’m surprised you didn’t hear him.”

Matt had served as the on-deck coach that game, so he was preoccupied. But now knowing that he hadn’t even noticed Micah’s dad made me doubt what I observed a little.

“Well, anyway, he really bothered me…but I have to admit…I kind of wanted to yell, too.”

Matt and I laughed, and at almost the same time, we both yelled out versions of “Just RUN, Micah!”

Because it’s true. My mind was thinking almost everything Micah’s dad’s mouth was saying. Perhaps knowing my own thoughts is the reason I had such disdain for him. And while I didn’t and still don’t agree with how this particular dad reacted, I felt like a hypocrite for having this disdain. After all, my thoughts weren’t any better; I just happened to keep them to myself.

During my drive in the car I thought about the different times in my life when I had acted the right way but not thought the right way. The times when I didn’t gossip but hid judgmental thoughts in my heart. The times when I didn’t complain at work but criticized my boss over and over in my head. And the times when I cringed at parents who couldn’t relax knowing that I, too, would’ve felt a little embarrassed if my kid rounded the bases like a helicopter.

I know the right way to act, and, most times, I choose the right behavior. I just don’t always choose the right way to think.

After my drive in the car, I was reminded of the fact that I have been reminded of before: I have a long way to go. I don’t want just pure behavior; I want pure thoughts. When I laugh at little kids on the ball field acting like helicopters, I don’t want thoughts of “Geez, Louise, kid! Just run!” interfering. I don’t want critical thoughts filling up space in my mind (I need those spaces for memory!). I want to be good and think good, too.

So, please, Micah. Help me out. I have a long way to go as a person, and you have a long way to go as a ball player. Can we meet in the middle? How about a nice jog to first base next time? I promise I’ll only think good thoughts about you.

*The name of this little ball player has been changed to protect the innocent.

Can anyone relate to my problem, or am I just evil?

 

7 thoughts on “Thinking Good

  1. Boy, I'd hate to hear what you though of me when we worked together! 🙂 I know what you mean. We as Christians sometimes (or all of the time for some) think that as long as we're acting right, we're OK. God expects more of us, though. Being a new creation in Christ includes undergoing a total body, mind, spirit and heart transformation, not just acting the part. The Bible does warn us that evil thoughts do eventually give way to evil actions and to sin, which is why we're warned to guard our hearts and our thoughts. You've spoken truth!

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  2. Totally relate!!! Did you read my post about the woman at the gym??? We have trained ourselves to act right not only for the sake of the Gospel, but mostly, I have to admit, because of how others would perceive us if we don't. But we think our thoughts are our own and in our minds we can be as ugly as we want. But…NO! The Holy Spirit is always listening and convicting in loving, yet persistent ways. If you are totally evil, then so am I, sister.

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  3. I can totally relate to this. I'm pretty good at keeping my judgemental and snarky comments to myself, but I think them too. I guess that's half the battle, but certainly not all of it. At least by keeping them to ourselves we're setting better examples for our children. that's something, right? right?

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  4. Oh, sweetie, you just described the human dilemma – and how it does exactly what you have described: take up thought/thinking space that could SO be put to better use. The longer I live, the more I recognize that those quickly judgmental thoughts almost always rise out of fear – fear of a new situation, fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, fear that this kid's dad would do exactly what he did, fear that your kid's team would lose because of a lollygagging helicopter base runner. If we can stop just long enough to breathe – just a spit second, actually, and maybe silently or very softly offer up the shortest version of the Jesus prayer (Lord, have mercy!), the Spirit has room to pull us out of ourselves and soothe those troubling, harsh thoughts. NO, you are not evil. Just human. Take heart. : >)

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