Photo courtesy of Little League Baseball / Softball
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
The whole sequence of events was stunning as teams from Texas and Oklahoma battled for a berth in the 2022 Little League World Series.
First, there was an errant pitch that ricocheted twice off the helmet of the batter. He was on the ground for about a minute, being attended, before he rose and made his way to first base, thankfully no worse for the wear.
The batter, Isaiah Jarvis, noticed that the pitcher, Kaidon Shelton, was visibly upset at having thrown a pitch that could harm someone. Isaiah left first base and walked slowly but purposefully to the mound, where he surrounded Kaidon with a hug, assuring the pitcher that he was unhurt, and urging Kaidon to feel better now and continue to pitch.
It was a striking example of sportsmanship. But to me, it represented something more: The power of vulnerability.
Isaiah took a risk by walking to the mound in the first place. People might perceive that he was angry or wanted to settle the score. And once he arrived, Isaiah did something that, in our society, is considered neither manly nor competitive: He gave his opponent a reassuring hug! How vulnerable was that!
Meanwhile, Kaidon was already showing his vulnerability as tears came to his eyes on the mound, even before Isaiah walked over. Kaidon was visibly shaken; that is not how a pitcher is supposed to act. The pitcher sets the tone. The pitcher must show toughness and maturity, especially at this crucial point in a pivotal ballgame. Finally, Kaidon accepted the hug and gave a thankful touch back to Isaiah before the batter could return to first base.
This scene was full of vulnerability and risk, two key elements I identified in my first-ever video series, "The Legacy Tree: A Christian Model for a Life of Significance." In talking about how to create reciprocal relationships of giving and receiving, I emphasized the importance of vulnerability, opening up about your life, sharing the good and bad of your situation, showing your own weakness and frailty. Reaching out to others in a vulnerable way creates an upward spiral of interdependence.
We see a Biblical example of vulnerability in 2 Corinthians, when the Apostle Paul admitted to a weakness that God would not take away. God told him, "My power is made perfect in weakness." Our 7-day practical faith should be informed by this idea of admitting weakness and allowing God's power to work through it.
When I wrote my new book, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life, my wife Sara and I made the decision to take a risk, be vulnerable and allow God's power to be perfected in weakness. We opened up about the most significant crisis in our lives, one that revealed itself nearly two decades ago and has colored every day since then. Readers have commented on how raw the emotions are in my book. A recent reviewer, Stacy Auld, Director of Spiritual Care at Houston Methodist Hospital, wrote, "I appreciate Cecil Taylor's use of authenticity and vulnerability to connect with the reader."
Sara's and my hope is that being vulnerable will cause important conversations to occur, bring out frank discussion in small groups, foster a growing interdependence between people, and bring about an admission of either a crisis just like ours or a crisis that is different but just as impactful.
I hope and pray that you will read my book or watch my "The Next Thing" video series and experience the vulnerability of which I speak. But whether you experience that as a result of the video series or book, I hope and pray even more that you will make this blog a starting point for revealing your vulnerability and raising the interdependence in your relationships.
As for our young baseball players, they have assured in interviews that their new friendship will last. In fact, Isaiah's father is a college baseball coach. He says in a few years, he'll recruit Kaidon as a potential pitcher for his team! Perhaps a new form of interdependence will emerge from those conversations!