[caption id="attachment_170968" align="aligncenter" width="1180"] Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
As a mom, I frequently feel like I have failed. Another day rolls around, only to make the same mistakes again. Sometimes I wish I could focus on one problem at a time, get better, then move on to something greater. But instead of the space to succeed, we mothers oftentimes ARE bombarded.
The one sport I committed myself to as a kid was gymnastics. Our coaches gave us tons of feedback: “Babushka! You look like an old lady! Straighten your legs! Tighten your muscles!” But they also gave us tons of freedom. Freedom to fail and to get better. Freedom to work on an apparatus for 30 minutes on our own. We had the freedom to try and try again. Gymnasts regularly stand on a four-inch beam of wood, flail backwards, and manipulate every little fiber – core and limbs and all – to manage to get their feet to land exactly back in line – with no bobbles – all while looking like a beautiful magician. Most of the time, it takes falling. Literally falling. Lots and lots and lots of falling. And then you stick it. It feels so good. Then you keep practicing it again and again and again and again. You practice it so many times, you can do it on the floor, on the beam, at the playground, in your basement … in your sleep! You can succeed in front of parents, peers, or even judges.
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I wish I could have that kind of mastery of myself in family life. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could always respond with light-hearted kindness? But not fake – something real – the kind that is full of faith in God, is natural and honest.
4 people talking to me at one time? Bam! I’m kind.
Hungry? Kindness. Got it.
Someone else is a little/lot grumpy/mean/slow? No problem. Kindness. Stuck it.
Stressed about finances? Kindness.
House is a mess? Kindness.
For, me, it would take a lot of similar repetitions to get it right. Put me in a sport like soccer or softball where the scenario changes all the time and I’m lost. I never get better. But if it was the same thing over and over again – I might have a chance. Gee, the same thing over and over again? That sounds like quarantine, doesn’t it?
As a mom, I know that you have your hands full. More full than ever during this season. And some of your nerves may be fired hotter than usual. Please, let me extend as much grace and sympathy as possible right now. It is rough. But perhaps we have less variety and more opportunity to practice the same things. Perhaps we can get this heavy load right one of these times.
So, what would you like to practice during this Covid-19 quarantine? What would you like to just NAIL this season? Maybe you do not have much choice in the matter. Where is life tossing you down again and again? Where are you failing? Where do you need super power where currently you are a wimp? Or, what can you almost do but need some more practice? If you are pumped to get something right this season, here are some tips from an old gymnast (blended with a little spiritual direction) on how to land a perfect 10.0.
- Isolate your goal. What do you want to happen? Get specific and nitty-gritty. Then connect it to the larger picture of God’s Kingdom and the mission of Christ. Figure out what your tiny mission is here in this situation. Break it down into components and narrow what you will be working on.
- Do not be afraid of your weakness. Everyone starts out not being able to do the thing that they aim to do. You will get better.
- Prepare for your fall. You should fall when you practice. Try to set the scenario so that when you do fall, you do not hurt yourself or others too much. Make predictions about where you will come down and clear the path ahead of time. Let others know that you are practicing and that they should be aware of your work. Perhaps there are troubles in your path that you can eliminate. Perhaps there are real changes that you can implement in your household or even ask from others. Maybe you need some tools that are not yet present.
- Fail often. Be fine with it. It doesn’t define who you are. It is a road map to your next attempt. Let each practice be like an experiment. Ask yourself many questions. Does this work? How does this feel? I fell. Where did I get off base?
- Trust your coach. What is God saying about this situation? What help is he offering? Take his encouragement. Look to him often. He’s with you.Let his love fill you. It will strengthen you. When you are filled with God, then YOU can love. You can succeed.
- Imitate someone. Who is amazing at this skill you want? Think about her. Pretend to be her in one of your instances. How does she think? How does she act? Take it on.
- Analyze someone who is bad at it. This is not be criticize the person but rather to discover the things to avoid. Where are they going wrong? What does it look like to fail? When are the departure points from success? Movies and books can be a good source for bad characters.
- Try something a little new. Sometimes you need to approach things from a different angle. Ask for advice from a different source. Books, podcasts and websites can be super helpful. Perhaps my new book on growing a life of prayer can help.
- Be temperate. When you have self control, you are able to focus on your goal. With temperance, you are able to truly GIVE yourself in love like Christ. (By the way, this is super-hard. I personally stink in this area but I include it in this list because it is the wise advice my spiritual director gave me when I said I wanted to be able to love more fully.) If an area of temperance is actually the thing you are zoning in on to practice then, lean hard on God. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, help this friend who is struggling!
- Use your whole self to learn. Success doesn’t happen just in your head. It is an emotional, physical, spiritual and mental thing. What part of you are you holding back in this endeavor? What gifts has God given you to meet this challenge? Metaphorically, look in the mirror as you go through your particular challenge. Perhaps your intuition can help you here.
I’d LOVE to hear what challenge you are working on during this crisis. I will say a prayer for you today about it.
Copyright 2020 Carrie Soukup
About the Author
Carrie Soukup writes at GraceFinders.com, compelled by St. Therese, Brother Lawrence, and St. Ignatius to help others connect intimately with God in and through the craziness of life. She has served as a curriculum writer, campus minister, high school theology teacher and retreat director. On a great day, you can find her hiking or cycling with her husband and four children.