Look­ing Goofy

Face your fears

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Marie Story Marie Story lives in San An­to­nio, USA, where she works as a free­lance il­lus­tra­tor and vol­un­teers as a coun­selor at a lo­cal home­less shel­ter.

A good friend of mine de­cided to take up ten­nis. She bought all the gear, sched­uled her first les­son, and headed off to the ten­nis courts.

When she got there, though, she was im­me­di­ately aware that there were other peo­ple around. There were kids in the play­ground, peo­ple walk­ing their dogs, and a group of oth­ers watch­ing a base­ball game nearby. Although none of them were watch­ing her, hav­ing peo­ple around made her ex­tremely self-con­scious.

Her les­son started, but she could hardly hit the ball for ner­vous­ness. She kept look­ing around to see if any­one was watch­ing. She felt silly and clumsy—and stupid for even try­ing to play.

Fi­nally, the in­struc­tor sat her down. “You know,” he said, “no one ever suc­ceeds at any­thing un­less they’re will­ing to risk look­ing silly at first.”

He ex­plained that un­til she could quit think­ing about her­self and how she looked on the court—ba­si­cally, un­til she was will­ing to look silly—she’d never make any progress with learn­ing to play.

As my friend told me this story, it got me think­ing about how of­ten I’ve done the same thing—and not just in sports.

I lived in Mex­ico for nearly eight years, but never achieved more than be­gin­ner-level Span­ish. Mean­while, my sis­ter was able to speak flu­ently af­ter just a few short years. What made the dif­fer­ence? Su­pe­rior in­tel­li­gence? A higher I.Q.? Greater ap­ti­tude for lan­guages? More hours spent study­ing? Per­haps those were con­tribut­ing fac­tors. But the big­gest rea­son was a whole lot sim­pler. She was will­ing to try.

When I hung back be­cause I wasn’t sure how to say some­thing, she stepped up and tried. When there was an op­por­tu­nity to hang out with peo­ple who only spoke Span­ish, I’d try to squirm out of it. My sis­ter jumped at the chance to prac­tice.

She made a lot of mis­takes and looked silly some­times. In fact, at the be­gin­ning, I was still able to tease her about things she said wrong, but she didn’t let that stop her. She’d fig­ure out what she’d said wrong, find out how to say it cor­rectly, and try again.

I won­der how many things I’ve missed out on sim­ply be­cause I was afraid to fail, to look goofy? More im­por­tantly, what big plans might God have had for me that I missed for the same rea­son?

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal once a per­son achieves their goals, but no one starts off as a hero. They all had to risk look­ing silly in or­der to ac­com­plish some­thing great.

When Joshua and the chil­dren of Is­rael took on the city of Jeri­cho, they had a strong army that had al­ready de­feated other en­e­mies. But in­stead of fight­ing, God told them to walk around the city. You can imag­ine what they were think­ing by the third or fourth day: Okay, we’ve been walk­ing for a few days now and noth­ing’s hap­pen­ing. Jeri­cho’s army is laugh­ing at us. How id­i­otic we must look!

But they didn’t quit, and be­cause they fol­lowed God’s in­struc­tions, re­gard­less of how silly it made them look, the walls fell down, and the city was con­quered.

1 David was cer­tainly the least likely can­di­date to face the gi­ant Go­liath. He had no weapons train­ing, no bat­tle skills, no gi­ant-fight­ing his­tory. On top of that, he was just a scrawny teenager.

But did he let any of that stop him? Nope. Did he stop when peo­ple laughed at him for of­fer­ing to fight Go­liath? Did he stop when Go­liath laughed at him? Nope and nope. He didn’t let any­thing get in the way of his des­tiny. He stepped up, looked goofy, and stopped that gi­ant in his tracks.

2 Best­selling au­thor John Gr­isham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, was ini­tially a flop. The book was re­jected by 16 agents and a dozen pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies. Fi­nally a small com­pany printed 5,000 copies, and Gr­isham pur­chased 1,000 of those to sell per­son­ally. He did his own lit­tle book tour, pro­mot­ing his book in his home­town li­brary, then in var­i­ous li­braries across the state. And it took a good few months be­fore he sold off all those books. I imag­ine he felt ner­vous and maybe even silly try­ing to sell his own book to strangers. I won­der if he ever got hit with think­ing I should just call it quits. Dur­ing this time, how­ever, Gr­isham didn’t give up on writ­ing and worked on a sec­ond novel, The Firm, which be­came an in­stant suc­cess. His de­ter­mi­na­tion paid off.

3 The Bi­ble tells me I can do “all things through Christ who strength­ens me.” It doesn’t say “all

4 things per­fectly, with­out mis­takes,” or “all things eas­ily, with­out look­ing silly.” If that were the case, I wouldn’t need Him to give me strength. I’d breeze right through life ef­fort­lessly.

It takes strength to risk look­ing fool­ish. It takes strength to fail and keep try­ing. It takes strength to try some­thing that seems crazy or un­re­al­is­tic. But that’s the strength God prom­ises to give us.

Is there some­thing you’ve been avoid­ing be­cause you’re scared of fail­ing? Are you run­ning away from some chal­lenge in your life be­cause you don’t want to look dumb if you mess up? If you are, stop! Turn around. Face that chal­lenge, dare to look goofy, and win!

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