Belly Flops and a Bucket Full of Patience

When I was a kid, I really wanted to learn how to dive. I had absolutely no aspirations of the Olympics; I just wanted to learn how to dive in general. The only problem – I needed someone to teach me. Fortunately one of my mother’s friends volunteered for the job. Actually, I don’t really know if she volunteered, but I do know that she accepted the challenge to teach me. Thankfully, this lady turned out to be the perfect instructor. She knew how to dive, and was really strong in the art of patience.

Unfortunately for me though, during our training, the only thing I appeared to master was the art of the belly flop. Not due to anything on her part. I just seemed to have perfected the mid-dive panic syndrome (you know, those screaming thoughts of “I can’t do this!), which always resulted in, well, belly flops. Because of this, I am sure that I wore her patience down to the width of a blade of grass. However, I never remember her showing any signs of frustration. She just kept guiding me over and over.

After those lessons, any time I went to the pool, I practiced diving using the techniques she showed me. Eventually, the belly flops ended, and my confidence grew. Finally, I was able move from the edge of the pool to the edge of the diving board where I would try out my newly developed skills. Now, years later, I have no problem running down the board and effortlessly diving off the end.

Last week, on the same day that I was thinking about this story, I read these words from Proverbs 14:29. “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” The first part of this verse exemplified my diving instructor. To my knowledge, she wasn’t a part of any dive team, and she didn’t have any formal training of her own. She just had the time, and was willing to coach this scrawny little kid, who wanted to learn something new.   For the times I showed up to the pool wanting to practice diving, she showed up carrying a bucket full of patience.

At the time in my life when these events took place, I doubt I thought twice about famous quotes. However, long before I was born, Thomas Edison uttered some very profound words when he said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time.”

Personally I can’t think of any individual who perfected any task on their first few tries. Learning will require patience, and success of any kind will require multiple do-overs. The question to be answered during those “do-over” times is: How are you going to respond when the only thing you seem to be mastering is the art of the belly flop?

The question above is one that has to be answered individually. For me, as I travel down this road of writing, I am sure there will be some belly flops along the way. I recognize that not everything that ends up in print is memorable or noteworthy 100 % of the time. I just need to keep this in perspective, and always remember to keep my bucket full of patience close.

I also need to keep in mind the reason for this blog. Which is what? Well, first of all, I hope that these posts encourage folks. Second, I hope to make people smile and possibly reflect on their own memories as they read these anecdotes. Most importantly though is to share with the reader my absolute love for Christ. It is to Him that I dedicate every word I type.

What about you though? Where are you on this journey called life?

Is the art of the belly flop the only thing you seem to be mastering lately?

Has this left you feeling frustrated? Are you on the verge of giving up?

If so, my prayer for you today is that you will be encouraged to grab a bucket full of patience and dive back in. You just never know when that “one more time” will be the time when you achieve success.

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