"I can't do," said the young boy. Eight-year-old Sam was entering swimming lessons at level three for the second time. He was unable to complete all the requirements the year before. This season, due to a shortage of students in his grade he had to enter a group of fourth and fifth level swimmers. As Sam struggled to swim across the pool in 10 to 13 feet of water, I called from the sidelines. "Come on Sam, you can do it."
Sam heard my voice and kept on swimming. True, he was behind the other students who seemed above him in skill, but he kept on trying. He swam on his back, then his stomach. He even floated a little. Finally he reached the other side of the regulation sized pool. I steadily coaxed him saying. "Come on, you can do it."
Even though he did not have the endurance of the other swimmers, what really mattered was that he finished what the swimming instructors asked him to do. The previous year, Sam was petrified to leap off the low diving board. However this time he was eager to jump off the low and the high diving boards.
Perfecting his dive was difficult for Sam, though. Before his first escapade from the high diving board, he looked down at me sitting by the pool and almost lost his courage. Then, he heard me say, "Come on Sam, you can do it," and lunged off the board.
Having gained some confidence, Sam became unstoppable. The instructors were scarcely able to keep him off the diving board. He had learned that he could, indeed, do it if he tried. Sam continued on his goal do as well as possible keeping up with the other students. In a nutshell, through his sheer perseverance and hard work, Sam not only passed to level four, but on to level five. He was so proud of his accomplishment.
He said he jumped off the high dive the first time for me. "I heard you say from the side of the pool. 'Come on Sam, You can do it,' so I jumped in."
Thinking that you can do it is the main factor in achieving any aspiration. Even though you feel that you lack the skill and expertise, attempt to accomplish that goal anyway. Perseverance and work are more noteworthy than talent. Everyone can build a case against themselves. You can always find a reason why you feel others are better than you. A single mother who reached her goal of attaining a doctoral degree in college once said, "Those who finish college aren't those who are the smartest, most brilliant or skilled. No, they are the ones who keep on keeping on."
I stored that bit of wisdom inside and I often drew on its meaning when I again attended college after my children were in junior high. When the days became long and arduous and my studies became more difficult, I constantly looked forward, one day at a time. Finally, I too attained many educational goals because I came to realize that "Even I could do it, too."
Brooke avidly desired to be on a school sports team. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she lacked adequate practice before tryouts. She became apprehensive at the last minute to the point of refusing to attend because she received false information from another peer. It was that they were choosing players the first tryout day. Then Brooke felt even more unprepared.
Fortunately those around her encouraged her and pressured her to appear at the beginning session. Brooke was not cut the first day. She prayed and persevered. Galatians 6:9 advises "Do not grow weary of doing good for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. Remember to never give up because "you too can do it."
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.