Even though my faith story is still in the works, I have so much I can share about my journey. Things have never come easy for me in the journey of professional baseball and that is OK. It’s OK because God never said anything would be easy. It’s also OK because as a young kid, my parents reminded me daily that nothing will be handed to you in life. You work for everything you want, and sometimes even then you may not receive it. I wasn’t a first-rounder, I didn’t go to a super prestigious baseball school, and I never was a top prospect during my time in the minor leagues.
I specifically remember a low point in my Double-A career when I was on the bus after a rough game and I just cried to God because I didn’t understand why He would have me struggle after I had worked so hard each and every day. I felt like I wasn’t getting better as a player and I was questioning if God even had me on the right path. I soon realized it wasn’t my place to question why. I was asking the wrong question. I realized that night it wasn’t “why?” but it was “how?” The question was, “How was I going to glorify God and stop being so selfish and concerned about myself?”
My goals changed that night. I’m sure some of you can relate to the fact that selfishness often blocks us from the things we want in life. I was blind to the fact that the journey wasn’t about me. Yes, I had my dreams and wants, but was I being the man of God I was called to be? Was I putting others before myself? Was I grateful for how far God had already brought me? That very night I came to a deeper understanding that this life isn’t about me. It is about Him.
Suddenly I had a new perspective on things. I stopped putting so much pressure on myself and started to appreciate the little things that could be taken away at any time. I took time out to learn more about my teammates, coaches and staff. I tried to figure out “how” God wanted to use me not only as a ball player, but as a follower of Christ and a leader of men. I started to pray differently and ask God to reveal to me skills that had nothing to do with baseball. It was at this time that I started playing baseball better. The following spring I received my first big-league spring training invitation.
Besides being able to showcase my skills to the major-league coaching staff, going to major-league chapel and Bible study was a highlight of my time there. I saw guys who make millions of dollars take time out of their day to fellowship and talk about something much more important than baseball. This continued to put things into perspective for me. During the season, I was called up to the big leagues for the first time — my dream became my reality! My soon-to-be-wife and brother were in attendance at my first game in Milwaukee. Seeing my brother in the stands — someone whom I grew up with and had seen the hard work first hand — meant a lot to me. As a big brother, you always want to give your sibling advice, teach them lessons and show them the way to go about things. For me to show him that dreams come true was the ultimate life lesson he could witness.
After the 2014 season, I was committed to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. I had played winter ball once in Colombia and I was excited to get the opportunity to play in the “best” winter league. I mention this because I want to give a glimpse of some of the places baseball has taken me.
God used me in different places and prepared me for something in 2016 I wasn’t even sure if I was ready for. In 2016, about two months after my wife and I got married, we headed to our first season in Korea. This was an experience that allowed us to see a part of the world we may never have seen otherwise. I also played some of my best baseball during that time and witnessed to many during the process. We made lifelong friends and I enjoyed my time playing there. My first son was even born in Korea the second year I played there. When I think back on the amazing blessings, I can’t help but be so grateful and proud of my family for thriving in what usually may be an uncomfortable time period.
Two years in Korea and I was ready to come back to the United States. However, that was my plan and not God’s. It was almost three months after MLB Opening Day that I received a job. And it was not in the States — what I was hoping for — but in Mexico. Even though I was a little disappointed that I didn’t receive the opportunity to return back to the States this year, I was still excited for the opportunity and a new adventure with the family. Mérida, Yucatán, was the destination and I loved it. My family loved it as well. A safe and touristy town that had a lot of great things to offer. It reminded me that a leap of faith sometimes is all God is asking us to take. I think He wants us to be uncomfortable and experience things that require us to go outside of our comfort zone.
As an athlete, often times you never really know what each season holds. You do know that every season comes with its own battles, trials and struggles. That is the same for life’s seasons as well. However, I believe all things are preparing us for something greater than this world. All of those things require us to possess faith that we will make it through to the other side.
— Xavier Scruggs, professional baseball player
Xavier Scruggs is a regular contributor to The Increase and provides monthly articles and opinions. Check out Xavier’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/xavierscruggs/
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