It was my cousin who first did it with me. We would play (basketball? Ping pong?), and it seemed as if he was putting forth effort, and yet miraculously I would be able to stay in the game, even though he won eventually. It was only later I realized that this right-handed player was competing against me using his left hand!
Now I’m the one playing left-handed with little kids. It’s awkward and unfamiliar to shoot a basketball left-handed. The weight is unwieldy and bizarre. It doesn’t go where I want it to. I begin to sweat and I am reminded of how it feels to begin any new habit. My own ineptitude grants me renewed humility.
No matter how old we grow, we will always need to learn new habits. Spiritual training is good work – but it is work, and as with any other new habits, it requires diligence, intentionality and perseverance.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
And so, as I shoot left handed hoops with my own little boy, I am reminded to be patient, not just with myself but with others as well.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. ~ Colossians 3:12-13
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. ~ James 5:7-8
What new habits is the Lord trying to teach you? Whatever it is you face, trust him. Be patient as you learn and as those around you learn as well. If the farmer gains the precious fruit of the earth, how much more will we reap an eternal harvest!
Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash