“Whether you think that can or think you can’t, you’re right.” It’s a quote from Henry Ford that I said many, many times over the years that I taught Karate to children. Some of my students would get frustrated while trying to learn the basic blocks, kicks, and katas (a pattern of choreographed exercises in which students used blocks, kicks, and sometimes jumps). I could see the discouragement start to creep in on their little faces when their arms or legs wouldn’t cooperate with what they were trying to do with their body. I knew full well what they were thinking, because the art of Karate did not come easily to me. It took an immense amount of time and practice to get those movements to click together. Discipline was important, control was important, and determination was vital. Some would succeed and soon they were looking like little ninja’s, while some would get dejected, complain, and want to give up. For those who stuck with their Karate instructions they learned many valuable lessons about themselves. They learned that with time and determination they could do things that they thought they could never do, their self-confidence was buoyed. They learned the importance of mastering something. They learned self-control. They learned that there’s power being able to defend themselves. And, equally important they learned that physical and mental aggression against others was not acceptable.
For that which is important to us we will focus. We will think about those things that are important to us, we will dwell on them, we will internalize them. In some cases, as with the determination that my little Karate ninjas used, we will work hard to master those things so that they become an integral part of our lives. Many of those students, like me, have moved on and away from Karate. In my case, a physical limitation would no longer let me practice my art and sadly I had to give it up. In their cases, they grew up, they may have lost interest, or perhaps they had other things that they wanted to try in life. But, for a short span of time I was able to teach them the importance of controlling themselves and working to master something.
Those things that I learned from training and teaching Karate continue to spill over in other areas of my life. Determination and focus is key. There are certain things over which I am determined about in my personal life, I have a deep desire to master these areas.
For too long, I’ve looked past myself and expected others to change their behavior to suit me, and when they didn’t, then my behavior towards them would deteriorate, which of course would exacerbate the situation. Some really deep soul searching, journaling, and praying pointed out the absurdity of this behavior to me. And, while I’m being brutally honest, I have to work hard to maintain the focus that I can only work on me. I can’t change others. If I lose my focus, it becomes very easy to overlook my shortcomings so that I can get upset with the shortcomings of others.
Every morning, and sometimes many times a day, I ask God for two things:
Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
Help me to be the godly wife that my husband needs.
These are the things upon which I can focus. These are the things that I can change within myself, with God’s help.