When it comes to bowling, I have a split personality. I’m the best bowler I know. I’m also the worst.

It never fails. Every time I go bowling, I remember what a horrible bowler I am, and I gear up for an evening of failure. No big deal. I like to encourage others and make them feel good about themselves, and what better way to build others up than to let them clobber you in bowling, right?

So I grab my ball, stroll nonchalantly toward the lane for the first frame of the night and boom, clang, clatter …  strike!

Every. Single. Time.

Yep. I make a great first impression. Then there’s always the appropriate ooh’s and aaah’s and “Renae, I had no idea you were a bowler,” and “Wow, we’re never gonna beat her!”

And then I get nervous. After all, now I have a reputation to uphold. Then I proceed to finish out the game with mostly gutter balls and an occasional two or three pins. Sometimes I’ll play another game with a spare, and maybe another strike, and lots more gutter balls.

Why?  Why does this happen to me? It’s humiliating. It would be better if I set myself up as the bowling buffoon right from the beginning. Then no one would expect anything. Then no one would be disappointed.

Then they wouldn’t laugh so much.

But it doesn’t matter, really. I don’t go bowling to win. I go bowling to have fun, and to spend time with people I care about. You’ve gotta admit, my inconsistency is pretty funny.

The laughter, the silliness, the teasing that comes from my failures creates memories and moments for bonding. And that first strike keeps me going, keeps me trying, because I know that somewhere inside me, I have another strike.

The way bowling happens for me is a lot like the way life happens. I have these great, shining moments of total and complete power, of overwhelming success, and everyone is impressed. But I also have lots of gutter balls. Waaaaaay too many gutter balls.

Every once in a while, I’ll knock a few pins over, and from time to time, I’ll even get a spare. Then, once again — usually much to my surprise — I’ll get another strike. And that strike keeps me going, keeps me trying, keeps me from giving up.

Sometimes I get my goals mixed up, and I aim for a strike every time. Then I get anxious, my performance suffers and I don’t have any fun.

But when I remember that life isn’t about those brief shining moments … when I remember that life is really about the game and my attitude throughout the process … when I remember that life is about the relationships created along the way, that’s when I realize …

As long as I keep pressing forward, as long as I don’t give up, as long as I remember to laugh and love and create good memories with people I care about … the gutter balls aren’t really so bad, after all. As a matter of fact, they might just be the best part of the journey.

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

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