I signed up. My gym offered a pickle ball class for newbies, and yesterday I showed up. I’ve heard the buzz of popularity and know people who love it, but I’ve resisted for two primary reasons. First, tennis is my sport and I don’t want anything to jeopardize that. And second, pickle ball is for old people.
I decided to just check it out. From a seat of judgement I would learn how to play and have it under my belt when the right opportunity presented itself. Looking around at the other participants, my perception had been accurate. Except for one gal who was there with her mother, I was easily the youngest one, by a lot.
How to play
Tom explained the basics. He pointed out the lines on the court and what is ‘in’ versus ‘out.’ We learned about the two bounce rule and the danger of hanging out in the ‘kitchen.’ The scoring seemed tedious and confusing. But after just a few minutes, the gist was enough to start play, he assured us.
I could feel my confidence swell. Isn’t this cute I thought. Me and these silver sneakers, playing a racket game. After all, I’m accomplished at tennis. Watching a ball come at me with a racket in my hand is second nature.
When Tom called on me first to hit a serve, I wasn’t even surprised. It fit the scene that was already playing in my head. Of course he chose me. I would demonstrate the serve. Got it, I said to myself with the humility of Serena Williams.
I mimicked his action and whiff… missed it completely. I examined the odd ball because surely it wasn’t just me. (Not unlike when I trip over my own feet and to save face for anyone who may have seen my klutzy move, I look down as if to find what to blame…Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done this!)
Finding nothing on the whiffle ball, I try again and whiff…What? Now, both embarrassed and frustrated I pick it up again, and again and again. This stupid whiffle ball will NOT get the better of me, I say under my breath. Demoralized, I finally took my place in the back of the line. It’s possible I looked around to be sure there was no candid camera. There was no getting around it, I just sucked.
The next hour flew by. And I did slowly, painstakingly improve ever so slightly. While driving home, having been knocked down a few pegs, I thought about pickle ball, but also my decision to keep trying. I’m nearly sixty years old and life as my teacher has knocked me down plenty of times. And, thankfully, I have bounced back up again. That resilience to TRY AGAIN and again and again is no small thing. And I’m not just talking about pickle ball.
For two plus years now, I have stayed connected to eight other moms who have endured the catastrophic aftermath that follows traumatic brain injury. I got to know these warriors at Craig rehab hospital when we were displaced from our lives, but took bedside duty beside our miraculous sons. We honed skills we didn’t know we had, consoler, cheerleader, advocate and tenacity coach. To this day we celebrate wins, we share resources, and we commiserate.
This week Andrea posted this picture that made us all smile. It also reminded me of a character trait we share. I call it grit. As my friend Leanna says… grit is that extra sumpin’ sumpin’. Grit is a mixture of perseverance, courage and resilience and can only be acquired in the refiner’s fire using blood, sweat and tears.
The people who most inspire me possess a large measure of grit. They’re the ones who have been dealt a blow of life circumstances that would demoralize most. And yet, they rise, they engage, they keep on keeping on. These successes don’t make the cover of Forbes. In fact, they rarely get noticed at all. I think of the sick or diseased who fight for life in spite of pain and statistics. I think of the marginalized who could easily take a pass and sit on the sidelines. And of course, I think of their care-givers who love them, but often don’t know how to help and may be breaking under the weight of it all.
Perhaps you could use some grit right now.
Don’t be fooled
Don’t be fooled, though. At some point even the grittiest people will hit a wall. Moses hit a wall while traveling through the desert. Joseph hit a wall from the bottom of a pit. The apostle Paul hit a wall from behind bars. I remember my wall. My wall was a dark tunnel of uncertainty. I was powerless and couldn’t see a way forward. And even today, if I’m not alert, I find myself right back in that fearful place when I look too far into the future and think it’s up to me.
When you hit the wall, when you come to the end of yourself….that’s when it’s time for some Godly grit.
Godly grit is built on the solid hope you have when you trust in Jesus Christ. Because you know Jesus, you don’t grow weary or lose heart. Godly grit isn’t about being tough enough or strong enough or courageous enough or resilient enough. It’s about recognizing your human weakness and being dependent enough to find your ultimate hope and comfort in Christ.
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
To me that scripture is godly grit in a nutshell. The God of hope fills you with joy and peace as you trust in him day after day after day. As a result, you overflow with hope, not by your strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve gotten out of the habit of using the phrase. But it applies.