I’m of the opinion that everyone needs a hobby. It provides a mental break from work, can reduce your level of stress, and gives you a skill to work on over time. For the past few years, I’ve been diving into the world of the competitive Pokémon Trading Card Game. It’s something that I started with my younger brother, and I’ve really enjoyed my time playing the game. I find it fun and relaxing, and it’s allowed me to travel all over the state and meet new people.

This past weekend, I attended a large tournament in Madison that featured over 600 players. Tournaments like this happen every month or so, and are vitally important if you want to try and qualify for the World Championships. As you might be able to guess, there are some players who are able to consistently perform well at these large tournaments. What makes these particular players so good? There could be many factors, but a big one is the amount of practice they put in. They’re always trying new ideas, testing out decks, and making sure they can handle whatever their opponent throws at them. They’ve put in the work, and they’re always prepared.

In my 3rd round of the tournament, I got paired up with a player who I would consider a “pro”. I showed my matchup to a friend, and they told me “Don’t think about it. He’s just a normal guy, same as you.” (Side note- I got smoked).

As I look back on that moment, I think I have a tendency to feel the same way about faith. I look at some people and how their faith seems so strong, so unshakable, that it feels like getting my own faith to that level is unattainable. But you know what? They’re just ordinary people, like me. There’s no “secret stuff” like in Space Jam, simply a dedication to spiritual practices. I need that reminder more often than not.

While my work schedule still keeps me busy over the summer, it does feel like a natural time to do self-improvement. I’ll take some time to read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline again, and look for ways that I can grow spiritually. What will you do?

“We must not be led to believe that the Disciplines are only for spiritual giants and hence beyond our reach, or only for contemplatives who devote all their time to prayer and meditation. Far from it. God intends the Disciplines of the spiritual life to be for ordinary human beings: people who have jobs, who care for children, who wash dishes and mow lawns. In fact, the Disciplines are best exercised in: the midst of our relationships with our husband or wife, our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors.”

-Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline