This I Believe

Stephen - carol stream, Illinois
Entered on December 14, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: sports

With my toes against the painted white line, and my heart racing, I wipe my sweaty palms against my shorts and take a deep breath. With a single bounce from the ref, the ball is in my hands and all eyes are on me. Somehow this unchallenged shot, this free gift, becomes a source of great fear. I believe that life is like a free-throw.

Life is a free gift and intended to be a joyful and fruitful experience. Yet somewhere along the way, I’ve managed to fill it with stress, fear and a lack of focus. When shooting free-throws, I’ve learned to follow four simple steps to help me concentrate and de-stress. Recently, I’ve decided to use these same steps in my everyday life.

Step 1: Routine. When learning to shoot a free-throw, the first thing I was instructed to do was to find a routine. When I step up to the charity stripe, my routine consists of dribbling the ball three times, spinning the ball once, bending and shooting. I do the exact same thing each and every time. With routine comes a sense of the familiar which encourages confidence. Healthy routines are good in life as well. I’ve gotten in the routine of eating better, working out, and reading every day. It has made a positive difference in my life.

Step 2: Confidence. When I step up to the free-throw line the results are often decided well before I even release the ball. Instead of hoping or thinking I might make the shot, I have to shoot with the attitude that I will make it. In life, confidence is key. Confidence in myself and the abilities that God has blessed me with helps me to face the obstacles that life commonly throws my way.

Step 3: Breathing. With the crowd roaring, all eyes on me, and the outcome of the game on my shoulders, calming myself is a difficult task. I’ve found it easier to relax by taking a deep a deep breath through my nose, exhaling slowly through my mouth. For me, this simple act can be the difference between a make or a miss. In the fast paced world we live in, rarely do we stop, relax, and enjoy the wonderful world we live in. Slowing down to enjoy the simple things in life with family and friends brings peace and comfort to my life.

Step 4: Follow through. After shooting the ball, it is important that I hold my release. This ensures that I am not short arming the shot. In a sense, it is maintaining my confidence until the ball enters the basket. In the game of life, it is important to follow through on my routine, my beliefs and my convictions.

So next time I step up to the free-throw line on the basketball court or in life, I am going to remember what it is – a free gift, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.