Life and Kung Fu
By Dandi Moyers
When life becomes difficult and threatens to overwhelm I often take comfort in knowing that when the storms have passed, I will have learned something valuable about life or myself, or God. The past six months have been such a time for me. There have been days that it seemed as though all would be well and I could enjoy every blessing. But there have been others when I have let myself become consumed by fear and worry. I could recount for you the circumstances of this crisis, but that is not the intention of this missive. Instead I would like to tell about what I am learning through it all. Specifically, how I am learning to understand some basic life lessons through these circumstances and how they can help my training in Kung Fu.
It seems to me that when times get tough we have a few choices to make in response. We can give up, which in life would be either running away or dying. We can choose to face the trial with bitterness, whining and complaining. Or we can choose to face it with grace and dignity. Running away or dying is simply not a very practical option and tends only to compound the existing troubles. Facing the trial with whining and complaining, which has been my option of choice for most of my life, is hardly better. It drains me of energy and becomes a burden to the people in my life. More significantly though, wasting my energy on whining and complaining blinds me to all the good things that are happening in life around me even in the midst of the troubles. Finally I can choose to face these trials with grace and dignity. Its sounds lovely doesn’t it? But how do I do that? The answer I have come to is Faith. In those times that cause the greatest distress, I must dig down deep inside me and remember who I am and to whom I belong. Knowing that an all loving, all-powerful God has everything in control affords me the option to rest peacefully while the storm rages around me. It brings to mind the story of Jesus and his disciple as they were sailing to the far side of the sea. A great storm raged that threatened to overturn the ship and kill everyone, and yet Jesus slept peacefully through it. Jesus did nothing while on earth in his own power, but relied entirely on his Father and his Holy Spirit. He did not fear the storm because he had complete assurance that he was in the hands of a great God with great plans. And so, through the troubles in life, I can find peace when I have faith and completely trust in God who is my guide through it.
Faith in God is something I have been learning over the past 18 years, not just the last 6 months. What is significant about the refresher course in this is how it has impacted my training in Kung Fu. Kung Fu is designed to better help you manage life. Ironically in my case, life seems to be helping me to better manage my training in Kung Fu. Kung Fu is like a mini exercise in life. In a very controlled setting, with very specific goals, you willingly submit yourself to a series of seemingly impossible tasks in which failure is a more common experience than success. You are told to do things you know full well you cannot do. Humiliation becomes a constant companion. You are faced with tasks that repeatedly force you to make the choice…. Do I quit? Run away? Whine and complain? Or do I face this with dignity and grace? Many people quit or run away. Whining and complaining is something I have become quite proficient in. But facing it with dignity and grace? Like in life, that requires faith. Eventually, it is a faith in myself: An assurance that I can dig deep down inside and find within what is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. But all faith takes time to grow. For the novice, there is only faith in the Sifu and in the tradition of knowledge that has been passed down to him through the Master and his disciples. Eventually, as a student, I will come to a place, perhaps many times, when I will want to run, or quit or whine about how impossible it all seems. It is in those times when I must lean on faith; faith in the Sifu’s promises that it is all worth it. I must trust that the Sifu can see beyond the current failures and see the success just around the corner. Faith that what he is asking me to do is not impossible, in spite of how it looks. Trusting that he can see in me abilities that I cannot yet see. And with each step of faith in the Sifu, slowly I begin to build faith in myself. I come to know, with assurance, that I CAN do something that seemed impossible. And, when faced with each subsequent impossibility, I am tempted less and less to quit or run or whine. Instead I can face them with grace and dignity.
I can only assume that eventually in the Kung Fu training process the student must make the transition to relying more on his faith in himself than on his teacher. Perhaps it is like walking with God. As you grow and mature, you must learn to hear God yourself, to learn from life and no longer rely on the teaching of others.
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