Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For Days When You Don't Want to be a Wall

I'm going to paint a little picture for you.

Every now and then my tennis playing energies kick in and here's what happens:

I go to some nearby courts.

If I don't have a tennis buddy to go with, I am prepared to play the wall.

If the wall is busy, I wait by the wall until it becomes free again, with ever so sly glares in the general direction of those hitting against the wall.

Okay, scratch the last one.

Kind of.

Couple weeks ago I was determined. I hung out nonchalantly by the wall for a few minutes and waited for the older man, with grey hair and long beard, to retrieve a ball, then asked him if I should come back later. He said he had just arrived and we proceeded to chat for a minute about the possibility of hitting around so we could both practice. Then, he asked me the question of all questions:

"Are you like a wall?"

Hmm..never gotten that one before.

I'm not sure I gave him a straight answer, but decided to let my tennis speak for itself.

Miss Competitive can bounce into action when she wants to, and poor old man, he asked me if I could be a wall. So I ran down every ball and remembered what it felt like to play for real, no fear of the other person being able to keep up, no worries what they thought of me. Determined to focus, to play my sport. To keep the pace.

When this happens, I hardly even notice the other person. I could be playing a wall for all I know.

This is how it's supposed to be. Unless you're playing an older man in his seventies (I'm a terrible gauge of age?) and I'm pretty sure I heard someone say he's technically blind. This left me a little confused, but he wasn't bad out there.

Apparently, I made him work for it. He asked for a wall!

Please, no judging allowed. I love me some tennis.

Point of this story: there are some days it feels good to be a wall. Resilience wins the game. Or at least it builds endurance.

There are some days being a wall is hard. It has it's pros and cons, to be sure. But, in tennis-speak (translating to life-speak, which is what tennis does for me), there are days when instead of building resilience I forget how to play, I'm too concerned about the other person, or get stuck in my own head.

Tennis teaches me that there is this ingrained muscle memory I have for doing things the right way because I've been given a model for what the right way looks like.

I had tennis teachers who helped me learn this and even though I am sure my technique was far from perfect over the years and still is, the only reason I have muscle memory is because I was taught how to do it and I kept at it. We are a product of who we look to and learn from.

This Christian walk is the same. We stumble and fall and don't get it right -- a lot. But we have muscle memory bringing us back to the true source because we are taught what it means to look to Someone who was perfect when we are not. We can keep at it over and over and regain strength every time the answer to "are you a wall" is a resounding NO.

We're not meant to be walls. Hold it together all the time people. And that's okay. It's good, good, good to be resilient and strong but we can't build our whole lives on that.

Here's a little encouragement for your Wednesday. It's plain silliness but I think it works:

-Gilmore Girls: Racquet Ball : Serious clarification for those who think tennis translates into all racquet sports. Not true. I played racquet ball once in my life in college and the ball won.

-Little Girl Dancing at Wedding Puts All of Your Dance Moves to Shame

linking with emily today -- come join AND hear about her new book.


  1. Dear Julie
    Muscle memory; good one! I just loved how you and the older gentleman came together and instead of glaring at him to finish, you two had a good game. That is such a blessings.
    Blessings XX

  2. Hi Julie! You are a better person than me. I think if I was asked if I was like a wall, I'd be a trifle insulted. And look what I would have missed! All this spiritual insight...just beautiful.

    Like Mia, I like that idea of 'muscle memory.' I think it works for developing habits in prayer too.
    Good post today!

  3. Thanks Mia! Great to hear from you!

    Ceil, your comment about muscle memory for habits like prayer reminds me of the idea that muscle memory comes most in handy when I think I've lost it.. prayer can be like this, too, I think. Something we keep remembering how to do even when we think we have no words.