My daughter Lydia started playing tennis last year in the spring. It was about this time last year that she decided she was going to try out for the high-school tennis team, which thankfully for her not a whole lot of girls were trying out, and that pretty much assured her a spot. I have told her numerous times however how impressed I am with her and with her coach, at the improvement she has shown in just one year. She learned tennis quickly and Coach Q I think did a marvelous job at the high-school teaching her the fundamentals. I grew up playing tennis from an early age. We had a program in our town to teach young kids the basics and then Lily and Gerry Breen carried their children and a whole bunch of us other kids all around New York State each summer playing in local tournaments. I played tennis everywhere. I loved tennis and I played a lot of tennis.
Then I grew up and got a job, I got married, had kids of my own and tennis was put on the back burner.
It has been a lot of fun though getting back out on the courts with Lydia recently and hitting the tennis ball. It has brought back a lot of memories of a lot of great times. I’ve also been amazed however at how much of my tennis game just came back. I certainly am a lot slower than I used to be trying to get around the tennis court, which Lydia tries to use to her advantage. My reactions at the net when a ball is speeding at me don’t seem to be as quick as I remember being in my past. (another area which she tries to exploit) But I can still hit the forehand and backhand. I can serve and volley, hit an overhead. I wasn’t sure how I would make out since it has been a number of years since I’ve played tennis, but I was pleased that the basics came back to me as easily as they did. It made me think how important and how lasting all that practice was years ago. My parents would go to the court with me and throw basket after basket after basket of tennis balls for me to hit. And so when I played with Lydia the other day I probably wasn’t as smooth or as consistent as I once was, but it was still there and I could draw on my past.
I think our life of faith is so much like that. Some days it may feel like all we are doing is practicing. Life is just going along and our life of faith seems to be inconsequential or to have little impact on how we actually live. Some Sundays we may not feel like going to worship. Sometime our life of faith, our prayers, our acts of service, the reading of scripture, going to Bible study, our acts of generosity, it can all begin to feel mundane and it can feel like we are going through the motions. I get that because I’ve been there. But it is as we continually practice the fundamentals of faith and we create that muscle memory within our souls that we will also be able to draw upon our faith, our prayers, our service ad generosity when we most need it and desire it.
And sure, we might get be a little rusty over time, but it is as we are disciplined in our life of faith and as we help our children to learn discipline, that we will all know the joy and live with the comfort that deep within us there is a reserve of faith to draw upon.
I’ve learned recently that there is comfort and joy in knowing that we still got it.