Is there something you have been wanting to do, but for whatever reason, you haven’t?
A couple of Saturdays ago, I did something I have wanted to do for YEARS. I never did it all those years, because I either never felt well enough to do it, didn’t have time for it, or didn't make time for it. And, even more than that, I simply didn’t believe I could do it.
IT was to step onto the tennis court as a member of a women’s tennis team playing in a USTA league.
The women on this team are so much fun to play with and wonderful to know on and off the court. They have been so welcoming to this newbie to league play in showing me the ropes. I am grateful for each of them and inspired by the history they each bring of overcoming their own obstacles to play the game of tennis. The obstacles have been different for each woman, but there is a common theme thread through them all:
They didn’t quit.
It had been 35 years since I last played competitively. I picked up an old racket to hit a few balls for fun maybe a couple of times since then. I didn't pay much attention to tennis as a sport during those years, because I was busy with my older kids' sports of football, basketball and baseball/softball. I wasn’t sure if any rules of tennis had changed. I didn’t have an adequate racket or proper tennis shoes. I didn’t even have any workout clothes other than yoga pants. (And, the only reason I had yoga pants in my wardrobe was because wearing them made my lounging around seem healthier...in my opinion.)
I had been so busy being a mom doing mom things my adult life that I never gave a second thought to the importance of my health. I simply took it for granted.
Thirteen years ago, this coming October 23, I broke my pelvis and separated my abdominal muscles during the delivery of our youngest son. That first year of his life, I couldn’t walk without some assistance, or I looked like Tim Conway playing the old doctor in a skit on the Carol Burnett Show shuffling my feet a few inches at a time to get from one place to another. I couldn't sleep in a bed, so I slept in a recliner.
I blamed the chronic joint pains and fatigue that continued long after the pelvic break on the demands of caring for a newborn. Even still, my healing was taking longer than expected which led to further tests.
Three years after my son’s birth, I was officially diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, the same condition diagnosed for professional tennis player Venus Williams and as many as four million Americans.
Sjogren’s (“SHOW-grins”) is a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. Along with symptoms of extensive dryness, other serious complications include profound fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies and lymphomas. Learn more at the About Sjogren’s page at the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation website.
Even though the doctors told me that Sjogren’s Syndrome is not curable, that it is something I will live with the rest of my life, they also told me to not give up. In fact, on the Sjogren’s Blog Facebook page yesterday, they shared a post with that same sentiment:
Don’t give up are words I have spoken many times to my family, friends and even strangers as encouragement when they have hit a roadblock in trying to do something. Don’t give up are words people have told me when I was facing my own adversities. Don’t give up on your dreams are words that have been heard in many motivational speeches and even in Scripture.
Was there a time in your life when someone encouraged you
I became inspired to consider playing tennis again after watching my son and daughter take lessons about 5 years ago. But I was afraid. I had become so sedentary since my diagnosis even though movement is recommended and instrumental in the management of Sjogren's. The chronic pains kept me from wanting to move, and thus, further perpetuated the cycle of fatigue and flare ups. I felt weak and completely uncertain of what my body could tolerate.
Still, my kids encouraged me to give it a try. Start very slow and see how it goes, I thought. And, I did.
I started taking 30-minute private tennis lessons off and on the past couple of years. Off and on, because every time I felt I was about ready to increase my play consistently, I allowed some ailment, time commitment, more fear, or basically, any excuse to derail this desire in my life. I even let guilt creep into my spirit for spending money on myself for these lessons.
There were days I felt I was improving and becoming fit enough to consider playing against other women to then playing extremely crappy and feeling discouraged many lessons in a row. Talk about questioning whether I should be spending my time and money playing tennis or not!
When things got tough or didn’t go how I had hoped, I started doubting and wanted to give up. And, I did for a while...until earlier this year.
I have stopped and started and given up a time or two, but not just with tennis. I have done this in other areas of my life. Business endeavors. Writing. Healthier Living. Relationships. Hobbies. Church. The list goes on.
When things got tough or didn’t go how I had hoped, I would give up.
Can you relate? Have you been there, done that?
Don't give up apparently didn’t mean a lot more than mere words to me. I could easily say these words but applying them was a different story.
Then, about 6 months ago, as I was cleaning out a box of mementos, I came across a prayer card with a poem. The poem was titled Don't Quit.
I have read this poem many times before, but this time it was different. It slapped me in the face and grabbed a hold of my heart. It changed the way I looked at my health, my desire to play tennis, and living life in general.
It made me realize that the difference between someone who is pursuing their desires and someone who isn't is not necessarily because that person has more than the other person in talent or skill; but rather, they simply haven’t quit. It doesn’t mean that the person hasn’t faced hardships. It means they have persevered through them. Their perseverance to not quit has kept them going and ultimately, growing.
After finding this poem, I decided to give Don't Quit a try in my vocabulary and apply a Don't Quit attitude in whatever I wanted to pursue, whether it be tennis, writing, business, relationships, healthier living, deeper faith, etc.
HOWEVER, I also realized something else.
Don't Quit would remain only words without action if I didn’t actually apply Give Up.
That’s right, I said the opposite of don't give up.
I needed to DO some GIVING UP in order to not quit. Like…
GIVE UP a self-limiting, self-sabotaging mindset.
GIVE UP negative self-talk and believing lies of not being good enough.
GIVE UP comparing my first tries to someone else’s experienced routines.
GIVE UP procrastination and making excuses out of fear of rejection or disappointing results.
GIVE UP worrying about what others might think about ME and MY desires.
GIVE UP spending so much time and energy on distractions: anything or anyone that pulls me away from my heart’s desires.
GIVE UP thinking more about me that keeps me from shining light onto others.
GIVE UP doing the same things over and over that are producing the same discouraging experiences.
GIVE UP looking for approval and acceptance by others while hitching my joy to their opinion.
GIVE UP letting fear dictate my decisions while holding my desires hostage.
GIVE UP (Insert your own GIVE UP statement.)
Is there something you want to make the most of?
The more matches I play, the more I realize I am pretty competitive. But, it’s short-lived, because it truly has nothing to do with the score at the end of the match.
Whatever you are wanting to accomplish shouldn't be valued by the outcome, but rather celebrated along the way with each persevering step. To me, it's about showing up, giving it your best during the current season of your life, and choosing to embrace (and hold tight to) goodness...and doing it over and over again.
Run your race, at your pace, with God’s grace.
Lastly, it's National Brave Day today!
What a fun reminder to unleash your courage to take the steps to nurture your heart's desires and don't quit...whether it be a business endeavor, a hobby, a healthier way of life, a ministry, building a relationship, deepening your faith, or (insert your IT).
Is there something you have been wanting to do?
The ball is in your court now.
What will you do with your IT?
Keep IT on the bench or put IT into play?
I hope you choose to give IT a swing & follow through with IT!
(Okay, okay, I'll stop with the tennis references...and the bold IT's! LOL!)
On this National Brave Day, the goal is to seek out ways to encourage each other to keep moving forward and to be brave about it`.
There will always be obstacles.
You can count on that.
Don't let them stop you.
Fluff out your brave cape (that you are already wearing, by the way).
Turn up your patient perseverance.
Veer in another direction as needed.
But, ultimately, let the obstacles grow you.
On this National Brave Day (and every day),
I want to encourage you to:
Have fun. Do it afraid. Rest.
Give up, but don’t quit!
Need a physical reminder to not quit?
Here are two items available in the Boutique that can help! Our Don't Quit Bookmark and Don't Quit Keychain.
More Don't Quit items coming to the Boutique soon! Stay tuned & thank you for shopping & reading Treasures For Your Heart!