Lessons in Bowling

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a team building offsite with our team from work.  We went bowling.  I love to bowl.  According to my baby book, after the typical ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, my first words were ‘bowling ball’.  That doesn’t surprise me much.  Other than dance, bowling was the only thing I really enjoyed growing up.  My dad was a bowler, and he taught me how to bowl.

Although I loved it, I never put much time into it.  I started bowling in a league at an early age, but I didn’t go and practice much.  Other than my three games on league day, I only went bowling every once and while for fun – usually with friends.  The last time I bowled in a league – about five years ago – I averaged 165.  That’s not great, but it’s not bad for someone who never practiced much.  I enjoyed bowling, but I had other things that I chose to spend my time on.

Though I didn’t spend much time trying to get better, I did care about doing the best I could.  Over the years, I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses in bowling.  I’ve never had much upper body strength – my strength as a dancer has always been in my legs.  Because of that, I have never been a power bowler.  My high games came when I was picking up my spares.  I was a finese bowler.  I knew how to pick up every spare imaginable.  Don’t get me wrong, my body and mind didn’t always work well together.  Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean that you are always able to execute that knowledge.

I remember bowling one night about six years ago.  I was bowling in a women’s league, and we bowled four games each Friday night.  On this particular night, my first couple of games were really bad.  I was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling so much.  As I began the third game, my arm was tired, and I knew that I would have to pace myself to get through four games.  I had a great thrid game.  During the last couple of frames of the thrid game, I realized why I was doing so much better.  In the first two games, I was trying to throw as hard as I could, hoping that it would result in more strikes.  That threw my focus off, and I wasn’t able to pick up my spares.  So I was trying to be a bowler that I wasn’t.  When I slowed down, my focus returned, and I was bowling to my strengths.

I had an ‘aha’ moment that night.  At that time in my life, I was really starting to realize that I had lived most of my life as someone I thought everyone expected me to be.  I’ve have spent the years since then trying to find my true self – the person God created me to be instead of the person my environment in the world had influenced me to be.  In order to find the peace and happiness that I longed for, I would need to be myself.

I was reminded of that lesson when I went bowling a couple of weeks ago.  A gentle reminder to play to my strengths.  Over the last five or six years, I have learned a lot about myself – about the gifts and talents that God has given me – about the unique person he created me to be.  Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget that in the pressure of society.  I have found myself trying to recreate myself into what I feel others expect me to be.  I know that God created all of us as unique individuals – an amazing reflection of his creativity.  It’s hard, though, to live in a world that seems to want everyone to be the same.  Everyone needs to fit into a certain mold – differences are misunderstood and often rejected.

But I have been reminded of the unique daughter that he created me to be – that in order to ‘bowl’ my best game, I need to use the strengths I know I have and not try to do what works for others.  I have a specific calling, and only my set of gifts and talents will fulfill that calling.  It’s my own personal ‘bowling’ lesson.

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