A few Sundays back, we posted a fan question on the our Facebook page about a family new to travel softball, struggling with the concept of playing on Sundays. Many fans weighed in with ideas and thoughts and different ways for this family (and many others) to incorporate their worship onto the field. Some tournament directors playing Sundays, schedule time out of the schedule for prayer, while some don’t – (of course to be politically correct in a world that is extremely fearful of OMgosh offending anyone.) Some teams and coaches and parents quite simply just pray on their own. Some don’t. To each his or her own.
Recently, talking to a parent about his 12-year-old daughter who wanted to play travel, I was further perplexed by the fact that his reason for not playing was “I am not willing to give up God on Wednesdays or Sundays to play softball.”
Give up God? Who said anyone gave up God? We play softball on some Sundays – and have never once felt like we deserted or gave up God. We know plenty of girls who play on Sundays, and none of them have given up God.
In fact, sometimes it seems that God and softball go hand in hand. Sometimes, it seems that faith, religion, spirituality and God are more prevalent at the softball complex than anywhere else.
The reality is that the more competitive you or your team gets, the more time (including Sundays and Wednesdays) that you will have to hand over to the sport. But handing over this ‘time’ doesn’t, by any means, equate to handing over your spirituality. You may have to change your routine, your perspective and choose to see the availability of God a little differently - but not what you believe in. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the coaches, parents, or tournament directors asking you to come out and play or practice on Sundays are faithless creatures who are putting money or sport above belief.
See, We, at SIFG believe that Softball and God go together. That they walk hand in hand. That they are intertwined, and that faith and belief walk alongside the sport we love and the people who play. And we certainly don’t believe that God only wants us to show up on Sundays, or Wednesdays – only in a church - and that what He really wants is for us to live a life that is inline with our spiritual beliefs. And for so many of us, this life includes softball.
We, have personally witnessed, as much faith, prayer, devotion, kindness, compassion, love, testimony, God, on the softball field as we have in any brick and mortar church. So, instead of pews – you sit on bleachers. Instead of youth ministries – you have the dugout. Instead of a pastor or priest (or whatever your faith defines) you have coaches, moms and dads, umpires and other leaders that teach valuable life lessons and mentor and minister the youth.
We have witnessed children who have never gone to church with their families, learn the Lords Prayer for the first time with their teammates during a pregame ritual. We hear young girls cheering on their teammates, sometimes praying. We see teams take knees for one another and stand together after games in a circle, holding hands – devoting their time to spirit/God/faith. Often times this is done without any intervention from the adults, but simply by the children, urged to give thanks from their own Godly consciousness and provide testimony to something that they believe in and feel strongly about. We see girls learning the value of team, and sportsmanship, and realizing that the world is not just about them.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
We see parents in the stands clasping their hands together and looking up to the Heavens, praying that their daughter puts the bat on the ball, that they make the play, that the team comes full circle. We see these same parents and coaches holding so much faith and belief and love in a cute little team of girls that it has to be divinely placed. We have overheard parents praying for safety and strength for their children and the children of other people, some that they know and others that they don’t. We have also sent out prayer requests on our Facebook page for players or softball families from all over the country that have reached nearly a million people, all praying for, pulling for and sending their faith to a perfect stranger who shares the same passion as they do. Softball connects people!
Instead of Sunday clothes, sure, the girls wear uniforms that affirm their faith in one another, in their ability, in their God-given talents and skills and HARD work. We see teams of girls who show up with Bible verses marked on their arms, not for some photogenic gain on Instagram, but because they are pledging and sharing their faith. We have witnessed girls taking their place in the batters box with a quick nod above, and girls who carry crosses silently in their back pockets.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves
We are constantly amazed by the beauty of this world, that we see through the experience of softball tournaments. Amazing sunrises and sunsets, cool breezes and raging storms, warm temperatures, and dirt (which somehow never seems filthy at the ball field) The smell of fresh-cut grass, the beautiful relief a single grey cloud or wind can bring during the hottest part of the day, the amazing strength of a blaring sunbeam, the gentle cleansing of a summer shower on the hottest day that cools the heart and soul. A rainbow peaking over a field. We are constantly at the mercy of Mother Nature, and often saddled with extreme gratitude and sheer awe for the simplicity of the things that God created for us on this Earth.
If you sit still for a moment and listen, you will also notice that the ball field is one of the happiest places on earth. Laughter, cheers, clear face to face conversations, stories told, memories made, childhoods built, self-confidence increased, smiles abound. Sheer, unbridled pure and innocent happiness is evident in nearly every corner of any park. Families spending precious time together, strangers getting to know one another, people helping one another out, bonds being shared that seem to far outreach the brick-dust and chalk lines.
We see children growing up, and morality being learned, and life lessons being taught, and consequences for actions taking place. We see kids learning critical work ethic. We see kids accepting one another, and working out differences, and learning how to trust and love and care for and be compassionate towards others. We see parents parenting and investing in their children. We see young girls investing in themselves.
We see so many people DEVOTED to empowering and encouraging todays young women, and often using a beautiful sport as a vehicle to reach them spiritually and otherwise. Making a HUGE difference!
The list could go on and on. Each time we go to the ballpark, we stand in witness to so many fruitful, wholesome things. While it may not be church – often the lessons are very much the same. And who after all is responsible for placing this passion in our daughters hearts?
But Mostly, we SEE LOVE and fellowship and so much darn LIGHT in a world that can be so dark, that we are 100% certain God lives - THRIVES at the softball field.
We would NEVER suggest that anyone give up church for softball. We all have a personal journey with our family and have to do what is right for us and what we feel led to do. Each of us has our own belief system in place and we all have to do what is right and best for us. To follow our own hearts, and our own lead. And while we would never speak for God, we do believe that as long as we are living our lives, and praying, and showing fellowship, it doesn’t matter if we are in a closet, in church, or on a softball field on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon.
Our point, is that we believe God is everywhere. And especially that God is at the softball field with us, at all times – even on Sundays! Softball and God go together like a pitcher and a catcher.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.
And HE is with us at the ballfield!
And with that, we introduce our Sunday Shirt! Available for teams, in various colors, so you can be sure that any day, every day – God’s being recognized at the ball field. (Available at www.store.softballisforgirls.com)