The last half of 2011 brought many new and exciting developments in my life. God showed me that He had not forgotten me – something that many of us can forget when life’s tasks, responsibilities and pressures become a whirlwind rather than a gentle breeze.
While our “heart” knows that He is present, sometimes our “head” longs to see His manifested presence even more to reassure us during difficult times. As these developments were unfolding I made a conscientious decision to take better care of myself.
It was actually in the midst of a very unusual, although not negative, situation that I saw that putting me on the back burner was not only failing to help me, it was in some cases preventing others from acting respectfully and responsibly when it was well in their power to do both.
I know myself well enough to know that I am easily bored with things that are not challenging. I knew that a treadmill was not going to keep me engaged in an exercise routine long term so I decided to take up a new sport – tennis.
I knew going in that this was going to be quite the endeavor at the start but I committed to the idea and invested in a membership at an indoor tennis facility, equipment and two coaches, Connie and Jamie. In the process of learning to play tennis I saw a lot of transferable life lessons emerging from my tennis lessons and I wanted to share a few of them with you.
Set goals that are small but meaningful. The first week of tennis my goal was simple: Don’t collapse on the court. I did not care if I did not make my hits or if the ball flew into another court. Not dying in front of everyone was my only goal. Every lesson that I walked out alive I walked out satisfied knowing that met my goal.
Set new goals. After two weeks I realized that not only was I not going to die, but that my body was learning (with some coaxing from the Jacuzzi) to agree with the one hour sessions, three days a week, so I had to set a new goal. Hit the ball.
As Christians, and as humans in general, we tend to get comfortable in the “old goals” because they make us feel as though we are continually achieving when in fact we have long since outgrown the usefulness of that goal.
Imagine if your goal at age 30 was, “color inside the lines, share toys with others, don’t put objects from the floor in my mouth.” While we can all acknowledge that these are all good ideas, they do not fit the needs of the average 30 year old.
As you look at your goals with your walk with God, are you constantly changing and building on them to build your faith or do you still have your pre-school Christian goals of, “pray before I eat, don’t be mean to people I like, go to church on Sunday.”
Staff for the change you want. As I mentioned, I have two coaches. Connie is a tremendous teacher who has won all manner of tennis awards. Her job is to teach me the mechanics of the game so that I learn how to play correctly. Her focus is getting my feet and body in the right position and the racquet on the right bevel.
Jamie is a high school varsity tennis player who gives me great instant feedback and has endless 17-year-old energy to run me all over the court. I think she tried to off me a few times but I was determined to maintain goal one – don’t collapse on the court. My coaches reflect, not where I am but where I want to be. I want to be able to play well in matches and not collapse.
It is ok to NOT be good at something. Too often we put pressure on ourselves to be good at any and everything we set out to do. There are times when being “good” is not the point. Sometimes just the effort involved and the improvement that you see signals that your effort and energy were well spent. God designed us to need other people, and for other people to need us.
This week as you plan your 2012 goals, be good to yourself and take a lesson from my tennis lessons.