Tag Archives: spiritual discipline

Good intentions.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about shooting free throws. I talked about how I had shot free throws for the first time in several years. I talked about how my little fingers hurt. I revealed that I had made about 3 of the 25 shots I took.

I’ve been back to the gym several times. I decided that shooting free throws was an important thing to do. It would make me a better person. It would strengthen me. It would help me accomplish something. So I set a goal of shooting 50 free throws a day.

I’ve shot 50 free throws at a time eight times in the past three weeks. That’s pretty good for starting out, right? I mean, I know I should be there every day, but I figure I need to start somewhere.

I’ve ranged from 3 out of fifty to 12 out of fifty. I was doing better early, but for the past two days I’ve been making three. I’m not trying to miss. Every shot I try to hit. But I seem to be doing worse.

I know that I could ask for help. I know that there are tremendous resources available, that there are people around here that I could ask. But there is something about asking for help to do something that I could do when I was ten that just seems, well, humiliating.

Besides, I should be able to just do this. It’s a simple shot (why do you think they call them free?). Oh wait. Even good players have a hard time with this. I mean, Shaq. So why should I bother? If someone really good can’t do well, why should I spend any time on this at all?

But I know that the routine is good for me. I know that I ought to be able to follow through on a commitment. I know that someday this might make sense. Someday I might figure out the right combination of hands and eyes and feet. In fact, if I took notes on what works, if I thought through what happened each time it worked, I might learn something.

But for now, I’ll just keep tossing the ball toward the basket fifty times a day and feeling frustrated.

And someone reading this post will offer me a suggestion of how to understand how that effort can be more effective. And I’ll say, “that’s okay, I’m living out a spiritual metaphor.”


little fingers.

My little fingers hurt.

It is a completely unexpected pain.  All I did was walk into an empty gym and pick up a basketball and start shooting from the free throw line. I took about 25 shots. I made about 3 shots. And…

my little fingers hurt.

It’s been many years since I took that many shots in a row. I’m not an athlete. And I don’t like to look like a failure. As a result, although I’ve had access to a gym every day for the past, well, for most of the past forty-five years, I haven’t walked in and taken 25 shots in a row for a long time.

Why did I try it today? I think it was because I wanted to find out what it would feel like to decide to do something outside my normal routine, something that other people have worked to make routine. (Okay, truth in advertising. I walked in, and then decided to try shooting, and then, when I missed the first 4 shots, decided to try several in a row. So it was an emerging decision.) There are people who have decided to work on free throws as an important part of their lives. Some are kids wanting to find a niche in the game. Some are pros who are tired of failing when they get to the free throw line. Some are people who just want to set some record for the most free throws in a row.

(My little fingers still hurt.)

Consistency is one of my three words for this year. And I don’t think of myself as a very consistent person. In truth this means that I’m not consistent about the things I would like to be consistent about. I’d love to be consistent about a to do list, or about a morning routine that is productive or about following through on tasks. I’d love to be consistent about reading my Bible or about emailing friends and family encouraging words or about eating wisely.

On the other hand, I realize that I am probably consistent about showing grace and about checking email and about laughing. I am consistent about walking with Nancy. And I realize that being consistent about some of the other things means remembering and believing that they are important. Important enough to keep doing even when…

my little fingers hurt.