When You Are Practicing


I started a yoga practice in January. I am sure I am not the only one. I am doing an at home practice that I found on YouTube and y’all, I am not good at it. I think you could say I might even be bad at it. I lose my balance. I lose my place. I mix up my left and my right. I just don’t bend some ways. The thing I love about this particular YouTube channel is that she constantly reminds us that it is okay to be bad at yoga. Our job is to show up and do the best we can. We are practicing after all.

Practicing. I am beginning to love that word, and I am beginning to notice all the different ways it is used. We practice boundary setting. We practice self-care. We practice art. And many people refer to faith in Jesus as practicing Christianity. We don’t have to be good at these things in order to show up to them. It is a practice, not a performance.

I have a bad habit of quitting anything I am not good at right away. This meant I went to one track practice, and pretty much immediately ditched it for the speech team. At track I was in the slow group, but in speech I was good. I bought the most perfect yarn for knitting baby hats, but have mostly ignored the knitting bag because I have already had to re-start twice and that just feels like too many times. My sister’s twins are due in a month. When I am playing a board game with my family and I am losing, I always announce that the game is stupid. It is a joke, mostly. It is a joke I make because I don’t like being bad at something.

But the word PRACTICE is freeing me from that. You can be bad at a musical instrument, but you can’t be bad at practicing a musical instrument unless you never ever do it. But doing it badly is practicing, and the important things in my life are practices. I practice gentle parenting. Does this mean I never yell? Does this mean it is all rainbows and butterflies and no threats at my house? No. But it does mean that I try, that I admit when I get it wrong, that I show up tomorrow even when I don’t want to. I don’t berate myself for the ways in which I have failed. I am practicing still. I still have a lot to practice.

The same is true with my faith. I am a Christian. I am a practicing Jesus follower. Do I always follow perfectly and quickly and correctly? No. But I don’t have to show up to the faith perfectly. I am practicing. That means I just have to show up. I have to show up to the page for my writing practice, and my church for the practice of community. I have to show up on the yoga mat in front of my TV if I want to continue to practice. And I have an inkling that none of this will ever lead to perfection. I think “practice makes perfect” might be true occasionally, but mostly I think practice makes me gentle­—gentle with myself and gentle with others.

As we come into this New Year with all kinds of ideas about how we are going to be better, let us forgo perfection. Let’s practice.