Through all the faith formation that we’ll have had through our lifetime – every Mass and homily, the Gospels, Catholic education, retreats, and spiritual direction – we are instructed to live our faith all day and every day, not part-time, not checking it at the office door.
In all the individual interactions we experience we should be living our faith – through our joys, works, and sufferings – forever keeping the presence of God.
In several ways, this is similar to playing a competitive tennis match or basketball game:
- Long-term development and preparation: To be able to keep Jesus with us at all times we have to continue with formation and training to develop a good foundation. We need to go into the day knowing our identity as a child of God. This divine filiation impacts our every decision. Similarly, before any big tennis match or basketball game we must train, reviewing techniques, patterns, and rehearsing game situations in order to recognize and handle them successfully when they occur. You enter the match also knowing your identity. For example, are you a baseliner or a net rusher in tennis? Are you a three-point shooter or a post-up player in basketball?)
- Start well: Coaches will always say that a good warm-up and pep talk from our coach is helpful to getting a good start to the match. In our faith we would get our warm-up by talking to God first thing in the morning, kissing the cross, or committing to mental prayer. When this is your “pep talk,” your day will get started well.
Annika Beck in the 2015 Wimbledon Qualifying Tournament. Just as athletes use cue words to help them remember their goal and game plan, we can use aspirations like “Help me God,” writes Macken.(Wikipedia)
- Dealing with adversity: As the game progresses there will be ups and downs as your opponent changes tactics or gets hot or as you lose focus. Even in my best matches I will make some bad shots. This is much like our work days where surprising negative behaviour comes at you (perhaps from a co-worker or client) or you acted in a way that isn’t ideal, such as an unforced error in tennis). It is important that you are able to show resilience and bounce back quickly. At moments like this during the day we have to trust in and ask for God’s mercy and bounce back with love.
- Cue words vs aspirations: During the game and especially at very important pressure-filled moments, athletes will use “cue words” to help them remember what their goal and game plan is. Words like “reach,” “finish,” or “bend” are simple to remember and reinforce the whole skill. Olympians and world-class athletes successfully use cue words all the time. They are short and simple ways to help us get back on track. During our day we can use aspirations like “Be with me Jesus” or “Help me God” or “Pray for me Mother Mary.” In the midst of your challenges these simple words can really help you maintain peace.
- Go with what you know best: Nearing the end of the game, don’t stray from the winning strategy. Trust your instincts and remind yourself of what always brings you success. In your daily life remind yourself of how God has always been the answer. Despite all the times we have had the Lord work big or small miracles in our life, we still doubt. Trust him.
- Be thankful in victory: When success has occurred on the court or in our daily life let’s remember to give thanks to the giver of all that is good … God the Father.
- Take Pleasure in the Pressure: This saying comes from the book The Best Tennis of your Life, by Jeff Greenwald. It refers to how competitive athletes should look at competition, appreciating the fact that they have the ability to even play at that level. In our daily life we also should take pleasure in the fact that we can truly make a difference in the lives of others. Through patient, endurance, forgiveness, a positive attitude and a willingness to listen we can transform a life. Let’s look forward to being Christ for others.
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