When I was in Little League I was scared of the ball hit or thrown into the dirt. If I was playing on the infield and a ground ball was hit to me I would freeze–try to play it from the side–don’t get in front of it. Coach after coach would yell at me, would demonstrate the proper technique. I never mastered it. Not in Little League, not in high school, not even in two years of collegiate baseball. My instinct was always fear, and my instinct almost always won out over what my brain and my will were trying to force me to do.
Can you learn new instincts? Can you replace fear with confidence? Churches have instincts: take care of the members, protect the property, sympathize with the suffering. If we learn that an instinct that worked in another era holds us back now, can we change it? How? Motivation? Coaching? Repetition?
I play softball once a week now, and I still freeze when ground balls come my way. They deflect off my wrist and glance off my leg, and I despair that I’m too old now to overcome the instinct that has controlled that activity my entire life.