“Patience is the companion of wisdom” – St Augustine
I have probably learned more life lessons through sports than I have through anything else. Growing up, I was such a tomboy. I played basketball, tennis and a little bit of volleyball. I wanted to be just like my boy cousins and forever play youth league basketball together. The sport I ended up training in and committing myself to was tennis.
I started at the ripe young age of 3 and started playing in competitive tournaments when I was 9. From the ages of 11-17, I was ranked nationally and travelled all around the country to compete against other girls my age.
One Point At A Time
Like I shared in my post Beyond The Fog, tennis taught me so much about life and about myself. It taught me discipline, hard work, mental toughness, perseverance, tenacity, personal awareness and so much more. One of the most important things that it has taught me, is patience. Ahhh the dreaded patience. Haha.
I’m pretty sure patience is something we all struggle with.
We want to get to the beautiful and skip the ugly.
We want to skip the “assembly required” and “pardon our dust” seasons and go straight to the masterpiece.
Especially in our everything-is-instant society, patience is something we hate exercising.
I mean, if a website takes longer than 5 seconds to load, chances are I’m clicking away or hitting refresh because I can’t just sit there and wait for it lol. It’s sad, but true.
When I first started playing in tennis tournaments, I was so focused on wanting to win the match and the final outcome, that I wouldn’t pay attention to all the steps in between. Before you win a match, you need to win a set. Before you win a set, you need to win a game. Before you win a game, you need to win a point.
As I was playing more tournaments, I started repeating this phrase to myself during each match: One Point At A Time. What that meant was to focus on what’s in front of me and winning that one point. Then, once I win four points, it will turn into a game and then into a set and then a match. I had to slow my thoughts down to not get ahead of the moment, but to be patient, take what’s in front of me and concentrate on winning that.
That mentality helped me win more because I wasn’t anxious about the overall outcome (which would mess up my game in the moment and then cause me to lose the match), but I was cool and collected about the point at hand and that turned into matches won.
In real life, this thought process has helped me so much. Whether it’s with my personal life or with something I’m wanting to improve on or even right now with our home remodel, I catch myself saying to myself “one day at a time” or “one project at a time”.
One example in my personal life where I needed patience was when I was waiting for my husband. I didn’t meet him until I was 27. There were days when my mind wanted to drift off into fairytale land and that would frustrate me because my real life wasn’t reflecting that haha. I wanted to meet my man already, I wanted to skip the singleness step and I didn’t want to feel alone. So whenever I felt those thoughts creeping in, I did my absolute best to not wallow in self-pity because I didn’t have a man, but instead, remind myself to take one day at a time. Because most importantly, I didn’t want to spend my single days dreaming of my future, making the current days feel miserable and wasted. Once my mentality in that changed, I began to LOVE being single. To some, that may sound weird, but I started to really value the time I had to learn more about myself and travel whenever I could and spend my own money lol (can you tell I miss shopping like I was a single girl? lol). All that to say, because I decided to be patient, I didn’t spend my single years being miserable or wishing I was in the future. Instead, I thrived and I lived and I enjoyed every moment. I put my trust in the Lord and that His plan for me was perfect. Doing that made the waiting season so rich, so full!!
My fitness journey has been another area of my life that has required some dreaded patience. I mean, why does the time fly when you’re gaining weight but it feels like FOR.EV.ER when you’re trying to lose weight?! Haha. Since we got married a year and a half ago, I’ve gained about 12 pounds. To some, that may not seem like much, but it’s a lot to me and I’m currently trying to lose them again. To be real, it’s been a draaaag, but I need to be patient and stay in it. I can’t focus on where I wish I was and get discouraged that I’m not there, but instead concentrate on where I am now and appreciate the progress no matter how slow. Patience shines a light on the journey. I believe, though I don’t always like it, that every step of the journey is important. For example, if during my weight loss journey, I were to look myself in the mirror every morning and tell myself all the things I don’t like about my extra weight, I would be setting myself up to go throughout my day with a crappy view of myself and it may show in the way I carry myself or how I interact with people. However, if I were to accept that I need to be patient and diligent in my weight loss journey, I would see the progress in the mirror, I would give my body the grace to make its changes and I could choose to be comfortable in my skin no matter how it looks.
And then now with our home renovation…we’re needing all the patience we can get! I love how it is teaching us about the important things in the process though. It’s showing us how to work together, how to budget better, how to do DIY projects that we never would have known before, how to problem solve together and how to encourage one another. It’s also showing us how we can live a full life without a house full of furniture or common conveniences. I’m loving all the things this season of patience and waiting is teaching us. We’re definitely looking forward to having it all put together and finally being able to furnish it, but I am also so thankful for this time we are in right now.
Patience With Ourselves and With Others
Now a days, I don’t compete in tournaments anymore, but my dad and I do give tennis lessons every week. We currently are teaching a group of boys who are athletic and have played other sports but are new to tennis. Now tennis is unique to many other sports in that it’s an individual sport, it requires a lot of complete body coordination in every movement and it requires you to be constantly moving your feet at all times. So even though these boys are athletic and coordinated teens, there are many skills that they have to learn for the first time, now that they are playing tennis.
As we have been teaching these guys the fundamentals and getting them to play and look like real tennis players, I’m realizing how many times we have to repeat the same things to them over and over again because they’re growing in their game. They’re not gonna just get it right away. Whether we’re asking them to move their feet or swing in a low to high motion or get under the ball to get topspin instead of smacking it like a baseball or keeping their eye on the ball or catching it in their strike zone every time, we have to repeat those things over and over again until it becomes muscle memory.
There are so many little details that have to be just right to hit the ball the correct way and we have to be so patient to continually repeat the same things over and over again, knowing that it just takes time for them to learn those skills. That’s the only way! They can’t hit a refresh button and instantly have a clean forehand. They have to work through the awkward and hone out the wacky and train their bodies to do it correctly.
IT TAKES TIME, we shouldn’t be trying to rush it.
The same is true in life. We need to have patience with ourselves and with others. We’re all in different seasons of life and some things take others longer to learn or they may learn them more quickly than you. Either way, stay mindful that the road is not a race to get somewhere but instead an amazing adventure, an intricate story, a beautiful voyage that is completely curated around the uniqueness of you.
Whatever journey you’re on, give yourself, your circumstances and people around you some grace. Keep working hard and doing your very best, but don’t get discouraged with set backs or slower timing. Instead, learn to appreciate the process and find lessons that can be learned.
I am so eternally grateful that the Lord has been so patient with me. I’ve been shy, I’ve held back when I should have gone for it, I’ve been fearful, but God has been ever-patient with me and given me grace upon grace. Two of my favorite scriptures on patience talk about His example to us and also our calling to extend patience to others.
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Tim 1:6
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col 3:12
I love that it tells us to clothe ourselves in patience. I find that when I am patient with myself and others, I enjoy life more because I’m not anxious or easily frustrated. It’s hard to be mad when you’re working hard with a patient attitude. So I hope we can encourage you to keep on keeping on in whatever season of life you are. We believe in you and in all the beauty you have inside of yourself. Take it one point at a time and enjoy the ride!