mmw_baseball_100308_articleJake Arrieta threw a no-hitter against the Reds. And that was only part of the misery for Cincinnati. They lost 16-0. I’ve been a Reds fan all my life and it’s hard to recall a worse day on the field than that.

You and I know what it feels like, though. We’ve had our own worst days.As a sophomore in high school, I gave up 12 runs in less than 3 innings on the mound, which was just my contribution to our team’s 26-0 loss, during which we got one hit–an infield single. As a college freshman, I struck out three times and was ejected after the third one, all in front of the two dozen friends and family who had traveled to watch me play.

This all begs the question…what will happen after your worst day?

What will you compromise? As a coach, you’ve been preaching to yourself and your team that the process is most important, not the results. And then your worst day happens and you question the process. As a player, you’ve been taught to not let one day affect the next, but that worst day stings and is hard to shake. What will you compromise after your worst day? Everything? Nothing? Something? It’s your choice.

What will you believe? Baseball is cruel. It’s a game of failure. Sometimes that failure is public and obvious, just like your worst day. Baseball can cause you to believe you’re incredible. Or that you’re worthless. What will you believe after your worst day? Will you believe that you are literally defined, that your worth as a person, is inexorably tied to your performance or that of your team? It’s your choice.

What will you do? I hate failure and I hate losing. I hate it when the teams I’ve been a part of or the teams I’ve coached haven’t performed well. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve sulked. I’ve gotten depressed. I’ve scrambled to fix it all. And, then I realize again how little I can really control. What will you do after your worst day? It speaks volumes about you. And it’s also your choice.

Here’s my prayer for you and for me (and for the Reds!) after our worst days…

I pray that we compromise nothing. I pray we choose to work the process even when the results shout for us to give up. I pray we can simply turn the page. I pray that we realize our worst baseball day is really a test of our faith and that we simply believe again in what God wants to do in and through us, even on our worst day.

I pray that we believe the truth. That we believe baseball does not define us. I pray we remember again that nothing we do on the field, good or bad, can validate or invalidate us before Jesus. I pray we simply believe the gospel again, that our worth comes through what Jesus has done for us and said about us. Without believing this, baseball will ruin us.

I pray that we do what brings honor and glory to the name of Jesus after our worst day. That sure wasn’t the case of me when I got ejected after the third strikeout. I pray that what we do, whether in actions or words, is something the Lord and others look at and say, “Well done.” Not easy, but possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What will happen after your worst day? The Reds are about to find out. They have a choice to make. And so do we.