karate kid

A Little Miyagi Reminder

To continue off of Monday’s post a little…

My mom recently sent me a video of my brother from a few years back when he was speaking at our church. I wrote about it shortly after it happened in this post, but it struck a chord with me as I watched it again and thought it was worth bringing back up.

In his message, my brother talks about The Karate Kid—the original, not the remake, he makes sure to specify—and about the familiar scenes of Mr. Miyagi “training Daniel to fight” by making him wax the car, paint the fence and scrub the floor. And about how, when Daniel blows his top and demands Mr. Miyagi actually teach him how to fight, he realizes, he already had.

Applying this lesson to present day, for a few months now our lives have felt like they were essentially on hold. Many goals we had set for ourselves, dreams we were working towards and plans we had in motion were brought almost to a complete halt. And for many of us, this has not only been discouraging, but at times completely defeating.

I know I feel like I’ve lost a lot of momentum in certain areas of my life, and maybe even taken a few fearful steps backwards when I’d previously been trying to courageously move forward. Sometimes I worry that these months of doing what feels like nothing, learning what feels like nothing, and going what feels like nowhere, have put me on a path I can’t recover from. Like I’ve wasted my time, lost my way, and won’t find my way back in time do what I need to do in order to live a good and successful life.

But then, what if the things I’m doing or places I’m going or things I’m learning, maybe in books, movies, television shows, crafts, yoga, walks around the neighborhood, quiet mornings to myself, YouTube videos, late night talks with my sister, long, honest text conversations with close friends, anything and everything that I’ve been doing over these last few months—maybe it is those things that are shaping me and molding me and teaching me everything I need to know in order to move forward. In order to find that momentum again—maybe in a direction I wouldn’t have gone before, with a perspective I’ve never had before.

There are struggles to be had, both now and in the months to come, but there are benefits to that struggle. There are things we will learn that will help us become who we were meant to be and live the lives we were meant to live.

We are all being Miyagi-ed, even if we can’t see it yet.

Wax On, Wax Off, Be Patient

This past Mother’s Day my brother got up in front of our church to talk about a lesson he learned from a rather unlikely source. He started out by relating to all of us, asking if we’d ever felt impatient when it came to getting the things we want out of life.

“Have you ever felt like you were ready for something, but no matter how hard you tried, you saw no forward progress?”

He didn’t ask us to raise our hands, but it felt almost impossible not to. I’ve grown all too familiar with that nagging impatience, this year more than ever. There’s so much I want to do, so much I want to accomplish, so much I want to become and I keep saying, keep praying, I’m ready. I’m ready now.

It’s not an uncommon feeling, and it’s not one I’m unfamiliar with. How many times throughout our lives have we thought, “okay, I’m here in my life but I’m ready to be there, and I’m ready right now! I’m done waiting.” But then how often do we get there or somewhere else we never imagined, and realize how little we had known before, and how much further we had to go to in order to truly appreciate where we ended up?

“Think of The Karate Kid,” my brother said. “Daniel Larusso, or Daniel-san as Mr. Miyagi calls him, shows up on his first day of training and pretty much says, ‘I’m ready to be a karate master now!’ and what does Mr. Miyagi do? He gives him a sponge and tells him to wax the floor. He gives him a brush and tells him to paint the fence.”

We all nod, having probably seen the movie more times than we could count. We knew what the sponge and the brush really stood for. We knew their disguise as household chores were actually training methods of their own. I thought back to the first time I saw the movie and how my mind was blown when Daniel figured out he’d learned exactly what he’d hoped to be taught, even if he hadn’t realized he’d been taught it in the first place.

“Recently I’ve started to think about those things in my life that seem like chores, or the things that are put in front of me that seem like nothing more than a waste of time. I’m starting to think they’re not.”

I sat back in my chair, letting the wisdom of my brother’s words sink in. We are all Daniels. We are all being challenged and trained to get where we’re intended to go, even if we don’t know it yet. The lessons we are learning with each day—even if they seem unrelated to anything we’re hoping to accomplish—could be exactly what we need to accomplish something even bigger.

“So we just need to keep it up,” my brother said in closing, “wax on, wax off.”