Monday, June 18, 2012

Fear is just a lie

I don't know if you've heard Tenth Avenue North's song Strong Enough to Save, but it didn't take too many listens by me to realize there was something profound that was almost “hidden” in the lyrics. The title of this post. You might ask “what does this have to do with tennis?”

Less than 2 weeks ago during the French Open/Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic was down 2 sets to 1 when he saved 4 match points in the fourth set before going on to win his quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and a partisan crowd. Sound familiar? If not, it was a little more than 9 months ago last September in New York that Djokovic came back from 2 sets to love down in the semis, facing double match point with Roger Federer serving at 5-3, 40-15 in the fifth, that he hit “the shot” that led him into the finals where he beat Rafael Nadal to win his first U.S. Open title. These are just two of the most dramatic examples in which the current number one player in the world has demonstrated his belief – in himself, in his God given abilities etc. – and exhibited fearlessness on the biggest stages in tennis.

Again, I’m not sure when I first heard the lyric myself, but I started to integrate it into my thinking on the court earlier this year, and it has really made a positive difference in my performance on the court. In the past, at certain key moments, I might start to get nervous – serving for the set or the match etc. – and my lack of execution would become more than my partner could compensate for, hence we’d lose the match. After all, no matter how skilled your partner, 'he' can’t save you from double-faulting.

Now, however, due in large part to my growing faith, and knowing the truth of the titled phrase, after asking for and receiving courage, I’ve been swinging away. That doesn’t mean that I’m no longer making unforced errors, or even double-faulting on occasion, but the cause isn’t a lack of belief on my part. "Pressure” that used to plague me is gone and - even counting the likely outcome of a couple of suspended matches - my various partners and I have compiled a record of 19-4 in 2012 (and 3 of the losses were in January), including the last twelve in a row ... all for the Glory of God!

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