Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Keep practicing....Keep Trying.....You can do it!

Do you remember what it was like when you tried to learn something new as a kid?  How many times did you fall off your bike and skin your knees before you could ride without training wheels?  How many times did you have to swing the bat into the air before you finally made contact and sent the ball sailing?  How many times did you have to practice your piano or music lesson before you were able to play something that even resembled a melody?  If you are like me, the answer is likely “hundreds.”  When we are trying to do something we have never done before, we have to do it ‘over and over and over’ until we get it right. Sometimes we just get frustrated and give up, deciding that the result/goal just isn’t worth the effort.

I have been thinking a lot about my recent fishing trip this week and how scared I was to go because it was ‘something new” and I had no idea how to fly fish. I grew up fishing and although I don’t typically catch the big ones and am not particularly good at it, I do have my own tackle box, can bait a hook, and am not usually afraid to take the fish off the hook.  Like many other things, learning to fish takes practice. I have had multiple tangled lines, casts that ended up in the trees or the brush, and have lost a lot of lures over the years. I have also had countless trips when I fished for several hours and didn’t even get a nibble, let alone catch a fish.  There are days like that.  Learning how to fly-fish was a totally new experience. There is a method to casting and bringing in the line (called stripping) that is completely different than the usual pan-fishing that I do. I made multiple mistakes and the line/fly ended up in the trees more times than I care to admit. The guide, Dave Roller, must have said, “Left foot” a dozen or more times, indicating that I was stepping on the line when my cast ended up only a few yards in front of me. Apparently that is a common occurrence among even the experienced fishermen since the line is never completely reeled in, but rather lays loosely on the ground or on top of the water. Over and over and over I’d cast and strip the line back in with no results. It took a lot of patience and a lot of practice and occasionally I was even rewarded with a ‘nice cast’ from someone in the boat! I cast hundreds of times and came back empty, but I did it again….and again….and again. I wasn’t about to give up. I knew I wasn't going to catch a fish if my line wasn't in the water!

Life is a lot like fishing.  We do things every day and don’t see results.  Maybe it’s work related; you go to the office/job and put in a great effort, only to have it go unnoticed by your boss.  Perhaps you go out of your way to find a perfect gift (for a person who has ‘everything’) for a holiday or birthday, and he/she doesn’t like it.  Maybe you get up early every morning to tidy up the house before work, only to come home and have it all messed up again because the kids/spouse gets home earlier than you. Maybe you just feel overworked, unappreciated, frustrated and/or are just plain “tired” of trying.  I’m sure there are dozens of examples of this.

If you have been overweight for most of your life, it is likely that you have tried before to lose weight. Perhaps, like me, you’ve even been successful once or twice, but gained it (and then some) all back. Maybe you’ve been on every new diet that came out; Adkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, diet pills, Slimfast….etc., and have even lost weight at first, but then you gave up when it got too hard.  Maybe you have tried multiple times to quit smoking or drinking, or to save money, and were doing great for a few weeks….and then something happened and you went back to your old ways.  Maybe you’ve dated/married multiple people, hoping that ‘this time” you found Mr./Mrs. Right.  We often start out with a deep desire to “get it right” this time; to make it work; to really CHANGE our life, but we get discouraged, lose faith, and just give up, feeling defeated and hopeless.

Life is like that. We try, we fail, we try again. We fail at our attempts to do “stuff” and we fail in our attempts to “be” a certain way….at least I do…..often.  No matter how hard I try…and how much I desire it…I still find myself thinking thoughts that are ‘unkind’. I still find myself thinking negative thoughts, saying hurtful things, gossiping, being critical, being selfish. The list is really endless.  Fortunately….I know a loving, forgiving God who gives continually gives me a 2nd chance; a new day to try again.  I also know that like all things, I have to practice and practice and practice BEING, THINKING, DOING, TRUSTING, LOVING…... The list goes on.  I also have to practice CHOOSING….over and over and over. Every day…every minute…every meal, I have to CHOOSE what to think, how to act, what to eat.  I have to CHOOSE to be positive, to surrender, to make the right choices, to stay on track.  Sometimes I fail, but I don’t give up. I try again and again and again.

If you are sincere about changing your life…..and succeeding THIS TIME at whatever it is you want to accomplish, I encourage you today to keep trying. Keep casting that line in the water; keep swinging that bat; keep practicing that song, even if you come back empty, miss the ball, or hit the wrong note.  If you’ve already “blown it” this morning at breakfast; if you’ve already smoked that cigarette; if you’ve already said/done something unkind; start again.  Keep at it. Start from this moment and try again.  You can do it! You must believe that THIS TIME you will “catch that fish.”  This TIME you will be successful….at whatever it is you desire.  I believe in you. Believe in yourself!