When I was growing up, my dad had a strongly opinionated stance against the phrase, practice makes perfect. He talked about it in teaching and in coaching, and he often used me as an example.
See, he believed that this phrase was inherently false, because if you practice something incorrectly hundreds of times, the result is that you do it incorrectly. Instead, he would often say that practice makes permanent. If I practiced shooting a basketball, the wrong way, hundreds of times, I would not have the perfect shot, but I would have a permanent one. My body mechanics would always return to that muscle memory I had created, whether it was correct or not. Then, if I wanted to correct that shot, it would take twice as much repetition and work to fix the error. The body doesn't let go of what we've told it so quickly, and it takes more discipline to change, than to stay the same.
I did not understand the depth of this lesson, at that young time in my life, on a basketball court.
We are born sinners into a world of sin. Even with the best of intentions, we tend to gravitate toward selfishness and act out of jealousy and unhealthy comparisons, in pursuit of our own goals and ambitions.
And the behavior that we practice, becomes permanent. I will say it again.
The body doesn't let go of what we've told it so quickly, and it takes more discipline to change, than to stay the same.
When I was a young teen, I had some corrections to make to my jump shot. In an effort to shoot baskets from a distance that my elementary school body was not ready for, I had spent the previous years practicing the shot incorrectly. I was pushing hard from my hip, and adding the push of my guide hand in the follow through. This may not mean much to those who don't follow basketball, but the concept remains; I practiced incorrectly for years because of selfish ambition. I wanted to be a 3-point shooter, and instead of allowing myself to grow into that correctly, I tried to speed up the process, and I created a much less accurate shot.
The process of correction was long and tedious. It involved extra time, extra repetition, and even extra equipment. I had to wear a strap over my left hand to keep it from turning incorrectly. It was uncomfortable, and for a long time, I missed even more shots than before because the correction felt awkward, and my body would rebel against it. I had to actually move back in, closer to the basket, to relearn the mechanics. I spent months, not shooting a 3-point shot at all. I wasn't right back where I started. I was actually farther behind.
However, I did, become the 3-point shooter I had set out to be. In fact, my 3-point shot was the main contributing factor to colleges recruiting me, and paid for my education. Had I not made the corrections, I would have perfected an inconsistent, mediocre shot. I would have worked hard, putting in a lot of time in the gym, doing the wrong things. I would have missed my goal because of stubbornness and refusal to change.
But just because something is harder, uncomfortable, or it doesn't feel natural, doesn't mean that it is incorrect. It could just mean that you have trained yourself to believe that the wrong way was the correct way for so long, that the change is hard. When we apply this to our spiritual lives, it can be mind blowing. God often calls us out of our comfort zones. He often asks things of us which are uncomfortable and feel unnatural, because they were never before a part of our practices.
Call to action!
Let's pray about what practices in our lives need to be changed, to direct us toward God's calling. It might be difficult. It might be uncomfortable, but let's open our hearts to those corrections. Ask yourself what the ambition is behind what you're practicing, and if it is anything less than Godly, ask Him to change your heart and your ways.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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