Taking Another Swing

Jan 1, 2009

Dad says I must have been only five or six at the time. Stubborn as an mule, though. I would not be dissuaded. Hammer in one hand, tiny little girl fingers gripping a nail in the other, my face set in characteristic determination. I wanted to be just like Daddy, strong and brave, able to build masterpieces from all sorts of scraps. And NO ONE was gonna stop me.

Brow furrowed, I held the nail placing it square on the board. My right hand grabbed the heavy old hammer and took a mighty swing. Only I missed the nail by an inch, denting the board instead. Not one to quit, I pulled back and gave it another go. This time I came closer to the nail, but grazed my finger. Even a six-year-old-swing with a hammer can hurt. After nursing my bruised finger a minute, I got back up, grabbed the hammer and tried again.

And again.

And again.

I lost track of how many swings and how many misses. But each time my determination grew. Until the last time. I really thought I was going to do it that time. With all my heart I believed I would finally hit the mark. Which is why, when I didn’t, I fell apart.

“I can’t do it!” I cried. “It’s too hard!”

Daddy kept working, even though I knew he saw my pity fest. After a minute of listening to me cry, he turned and looked me square, matching my mulish determination only too well. Without a flinch, he said, “You’re not a quitter, Michele. You get back up here and try it one more time.”

I was so mad at him for that. How hard is it to get a little comfort? Truth is, I wanted him to feel sorry for me, to be mad at that stupid hammer and nail for not cooperating. Instead, he pushed back, and in the process reignited my fire to try again.

Wouldn’t you know it, that was the moment I finally hit the nail on the head.

My turn to push back. We stand on edge of 2009. If you’re like me, 2008 has been tough, and you’re tired. And it’s more than a little tempting to stop swinging and warm a bleacher seat instead. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been swinging this hammer for so long, and I’m still working on that same nail and board. I’d like to either quit or see a little progress, wouldn’t you?

I don’t care how many times you’ve given life your best swing only to miss the mark, I’m looking you square and have something to say:

You’re not a quitter. You get back up there and try again.

Whether it’s a dream, a child, a marriage, a career, a project, a canvas, a friendship, a calling…doesn’t matter. Quitting’s easy. I dare you to live. Be one of those people who looks failure in the face and keeps swinging, keeps trying, keeps living.

I think 2009 might end up your nail-on-the-head year.

(I’m cheering for you.)


  1. alece

    you described me exactly. thank you for cheering. i hear you loud and clear.

  2. Robbie Iobst

    Michele, How well written and relevant! You spoke to me. Thank you.

  3. Jan Parrish

    Facing 2009 with determination. I know my Daddy will be with me all the way, encouraging me on, even when I’m hurt and discouraged, 2008 left a lot of bruises and I’d like to cry and give up, but Dad is counting on me. Thanks M.

    I pray your 2009 will have a lot more joys than sorrows. Love you, Jan

  4. Michele

    Alece, Robbie, Jan…Chicas, you inspire me. Time and again. Can’t wait to see what is in store for you in 2009. Being a part of your life sweetens mine. And keeps me swinging.

  5. Danica

    Thanks… having a bad day, so it was good to hear this.

  6. Paula

    This is powerful, well-written, and hits the nail on the head for how I’m feeling as I enter 2009.


    And thank you.

  7. Michele

    Danica…hope today is better. i’m always good for coffee or dinner, so give me a ring the next time you have a bad day. 🙂 always like time with you.

    Paula…thank you. for your ongoing kindness and transparency. glad you’re in my life.


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