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On a summer afternoon I was listening to a radio broadcast of a Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. I heard the announcer say, “It’s a brand new ball game.” That meant the score was tied. It’s like starting all over again.
So it is in life. Many of us come to a place where “It’s a brand new ball game.” Some situation has developed that has changed the old ball game. We begin all over again. When a couple gets married, “It’s a brand new ball game.” Also, when they get a divorce or when one of them dies or even when they keep living together but stop loving each other, “It’s a brand new ball game.”
Sudden life-changing experiences happen. It’s time to begin again. It’s something new. In a baseball game, when the score is tied in the seventh inning, they do not go back to the first inning and start over. They keep on playing. So it is in life.
In a baseball game at the end of the fifth inning, the score might be seven to nothing in favor of one team. Then in the very next inning, the other team rallies and scores seven runs. Now the score is tied. It’s a brand new ball game.
What should be done about it? The team that was ahead and then got tied doesn’t sit in the dugout, mourning that they let the other team catch up with them. They go out on the field and keep on playing.
Another wonderful fact about baseball is that there is no time limit like most other sports. It is a game of endless possibilities. In theory, a baseball game could go on forever.
More than any people I know, people who are living alone need the discipline of living now – not yesterday and not tomorrow. As we give ourselves to the present moment, we find new strengths, new powers and new confidences. It is a marvelous experience when daily living becomes really an end in itself. We are no longer haunted by past unhappiness. We are no longer afraid of future possibilities.
Many people suddenly find themselves in a new and frightening situation. They are alone. There is a tendency to look back with regret, remorse, self-reproach and bitterness. When we do, the result is usually self-defeat. It is natural for radical changes and severe losses to leave us with a feeling of hurt.
That wound in our lives need not be permanent though, if we take several steps. First, we need to recognize that we do have a wound. To ignore or cover up a deep hurt creates more trouble. We catch ourselves reminiscing about the comfortable home in which we used to live, the marriage that was a success, the bank account that was adequate, or a time of health and well-being. As we keep looking back, we keep picking at the wound and it gets worse and worse, harder to bear. There comes a time when we need to bind up the wound and let it begin to heal.
There is a story about a traveler who stopped in a small town. He said to one of the natives: “What is the place noted for?” The native replied, “Mister, this is the starting point for any place in the world. You can start here and go anywhere you want to.”
That’s true for all of us. Wherever we are is the starting place. It’s a brand new ball game.
Bob Mueller is the senior director of mission and stewardship at Hosparus. The views in this column are those of the writer.