Sporting Clays is a shotgun sport that involves shooting clay disks launched into the air to replicate the flight of game birds. To do well at Sporting Clays takes concentration and practice. The first time I met my Sporting Clays coach, he said, “You must learn to shoot left-handed, or I won’t work with you.”
As a right handed person, learning to shoot left handed has become a sort of rallying cry for me encompassing all the seemingly impossible things required to be my best, whole, healthy self. This is not just about becoming proficient at my favorite sport. Learning to shoot left-handed is a metaphor for what I must do to be the kind of person I want to be.
I sought out a coach because I want to get better. I am right-handed but left eye dominant. Only about one-third of the population is estimated to have this cross configuration. This means I do all the practical things like writing, reaching for something, tennis, and shooting with my right hand. Yet, my brain uses my left eye to register detail at a distance or to focus on something. I can see out of my right eye, but that eye takes a backseat to the stronger left eye.
My coach knows that learning to hold my shotgun from the left side properly will be very hard, but he knows too that I’ll never get beyond my current level of proficiency if I don’t train myself to do it.
There are a lot of habits and ways of being and thinking in my life that have become “natural” or engrained, kind of like using my right hand. Some researchers even believe that people with left eye dominance that are right-handed were really left-handed but pushed toward the right hand by well-meaning teachers and parents at a young age.
Whatever you do over and over becomes the pattern or “natural” way you respond or act.
Many of us learn how to do things by watching others or through training that may not be optimal. A pathway gets created in the brain from the repetition leading to “the way we do things.”
Some brain pathways for doing things are very bad for us and those around us. Some things are not really bad but not optimal. Jesus came to earth to make us good, the way he knows we were designed to be for eternity. We are genetically designed to live for ever some place. Our time on this earthly plane is limited. It’s our practice field.
Practice makes perfect. I’m learning to shoot left handed because I want to be the best I can be. I appreciate the tough-love of my coach. He values his time, and he wants to ensure that my time leads to my stated goal – to be the best I can be at Sporting Clays.
Why would the coach spend his time with a student unwilling to take the most important step toward the goal? Why would I waste my time repeating a practice that will never get me any farther than I am right now?
In my daily relating to people, I’m working toward the equivalent of learning to shoot left-handed. I’m committed to love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). It’s so very hard, but I’m in it to win it. I don’t want to waste time while here on earth not striving to maximize my potential. There are so many ways I’ve learned to react and deal based on covering up pain or sin.
I call out to Jesus for help. He’s there for me, but he, like the coach, can’t coddle me, can’t lie to me. Jesus too says, “You’ve got to learn to do it a different way than what feels comfortable because that’s not my way, not the best way.”