Follow Through

As the mom of a kid who tried almost every sport, I have heard the term “follow through” a lot! In little league baseball, the pitcher was told to follow through as he threw the ball. Even as a catcher, Jon was told to follow through as he threw the ball to first base. A ball will go further and faster if you follow through with your arm, even after the ball has left your hand.

When Jon learned to play golf and eventually joined the middle school golf team, again the follow through of his swing was important. Again, the ball will go farther and straighter if you continue your swing after the club has hit the ball.

And eventually, as Jon narrowed down his sports to dancing in show choir and football all of the way to the college level, follow through still mattered. You have to put all that you have into dancing to make it look fluid. And in football, it is important to finish the block you start on your opponent.

In this day and age I think we miss the lesson of following through. If we tell someone we are going to be somewhere or do something, then we need to follow through. If we promise to pray for someone, it needs to be more than just something we say.

In church, when a baby is baptized during the service, we stand as a congregation and promise to “adopt” this child and help to raise him or her. We promise to be there as an example and do what we can to make sure he grows up in the family of the church.

When I hear someone spout off about being pro life and yet they have no intention of wanting any responsibility for making sure that that life can have access to clean water, health care, a decent education or even a safe world to live in, I don’t see the follow through.

Today I watched an interview with an actor who is portraying a veteran in an upcoming movie. The movie is based on a true story and the actor not only did a ton of research, he had the privilege of meeting the man he is playing in the movie.

So often I see people who use “thank you for your service” in the same way they say “have a nice day.” It becomes something to say that gets you off of the hook of having to actually follow through. The stories told about veterans and how they are treated, their suicide rate, their unemployment rate and their health issues makes me wonder how we can say we are a patriotic country, thank someone for their service and then forget about them.

After disasters we focus our collective attention for a while, until the next big event. We forget that people are still grieving their loved ones shot in Las Vegas, trying to pick up the pieces of their lives in Puerto Rico and wondering what to do now that they are home from their service overseas.

We don’t follow through. We want to have a quick moment to feel good about ourselves and then move on, we want to tell you how to conduct your life, but not help you with the nuts and bolts of how to survive what we have asked of you.

About 10 years ago, I was helping with the show choir at our local high school and one of the boys asked me for a favor. Knowing the kid from church I gave him a smart ass answer, jokingly telling him I hadn’t taken him to raise. As serious as he could be, he looked me in the eye and said, “Well, actually you did when I was baptized.” I had to laugh because he was right! I granted him the favor just because he was so sharp, but it made me realize that we are quick to make a promise and often not so quick to follow through.

Before you make another quick promise to pray for someone or help someone, make sure that you mean what you say.

Before you shove your beliefs on someone else, think if you are ready to follow through and help them deal with the consequences. If not, maybe their decision is none of your business.

Before you throw out a cliche, maybe you should think about what it implies and how you can help. Maybe standing at attention with your hand on your heart is important to you, maybe there is something more that you can do to show you mean it.

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.