Life Lessons From Sparring

I suited up as I do semi-frequently on Tuesday nights. I put on my chest guard, boots, gloves, mouth piece and helmet. I got out on the the floor and warmed up with one of the 2nd degree black belts.

It was sparring night. But this night left me with a picture that I can’t seem to get out of my head.  

After warming up with this particular black belt, I started sparring with her. I kept getting nailed in the head. I would try to block the hits, but after the first punches, I’d find myself a little discombobulated. I was having a hard time adjusting myself to get on top.

After this fight, my instructor said I should spar another 2nd degree black belt. I really didn’t want to because I find him intimidating.

The sparring began and sure enough I kept getting hit in the head- one hit, another, then another. I’d get to the point where I’d turn my head because I didn’t know what else to do. And, I was getting weary of getting hit. This 2nd degree said, “stop looking away, you’ll end up hurt”

I looked back to see everyone in my class watching this fight. My instructor spoke up and said, “Christi, when you keep getting hit, you have to lean in and grab your opponent”

It’s against natural instincts to lean into someone whose throwing punches. Our first reaction is to turn or to run away. However, since my instruction is a 5th degree black belt, I did what he said.

The sparring resumed and the punches started coming. Before I got discombobulated, I leaned in, rested my head on my opponents shoulder and held on. By doing that, I could no longer get hit. The punches seized. But it was as though we were wrestling. This 2nd degree black belt didn’t want to be held down and I didn’t want anymore shots to the head. We were fighting for our own wills.

I felt like that has been a picture of the past few years. It has felt like one punch after the next. I want to flee , but I know I can’t, and yet, I don’t know how to respond.

If I’m being honest, my first reaction, to the loss of my Dad, wasn’t to lean into the punches. I believe everything that happens in life goes through the hands of a sovereign God. So the punches that have taken place went through His hands before they hit me.

The first reaction I had was shock. I was (and am) discombobulated by this punch. But before and after my Dad there have been more punches. But this picture of that night in sparring keeps coming back to me…

I need to lean in. I’ve needed to wrestle with questions. Why? What’s the purpose for all this pain? Why so much heartache? Why so many closed doors? Why the standstill? Whose benefiting from all this grief?

I feel as though I’ve been holding on trying to shake God for some kind of sense for the loss of my Dad. I haven’t been able to say much, and when you’re grabbing your opponent, you don’t speak. You’re just trying to regain your composure from the blows you’ve taken. You’re trying to survive. It’s your strength against your opponents.

This past week I also remembered the fight doesn’t end by hanging on. You cannot win a fight by clinging on to your opponent. You’ll get called out. You have to let go and get back into the fight.

But, hanging on and leaning in is still apart of the fight. Every relationship will go through ups and downs. The same is true for our relationship with God. Tough things happen and we need to wrestle through them. I would be lying if I said, I haven’t been struggling. I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t doubted that any good would come from this. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t felt like giving up. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t had some days when I don’t want to get out of bed.

As I write this I’m reminded of Peter in Matthew 26:35. “But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.” The next day, Peter denied Jesus.

Death and suffering changes people. Peter thought he could be a disciple of Jesus on his own. I think, subconsciously or even consciously, I did too.

Things started changing in my heart about a week ago when I realized I didn’t have enough to get me through. I was keeping God at a distance. Attempting to hold Him like I had in sparring. I don’t want anymore hits. I can’t take another blow. I was falling into a deeper and darker hole. Until the thought popped into my head, “You don’t have enough faith”.
And it is true…

1st Timothy 2:13
if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 
I can do nothing on my own, I cannot handle this loss alone. I cannot handle closed doors alone, but God never asked me to. He said to come to Him. Lay it down. Cry it out and walk with Him. So, I started waking up and asking for help. After that, I read one verse. My mind can’t process a whole chapter at the moment, bug I can hold on to a verse.

I also think it’s okay to wrestle with God and wrestle with the questions. Life is hard and this side of eternity some thing will not make sense to us. In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestled with God. In verse 28 it says, “Then the man said,’Your name will not longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome’”

  • I looked up the word overcome and it means: “to prevail, endure, have power, be able” 
  • I also looked up Israel and it means, “God Prevails” 

At the end of the day, I am human. I’ve struggled with being on this road that God has allowed me to be on. But struggling and giving up are two different things. Because God has not given up on me and gives me everything I need when I ask, I can keep putting one foot in front of the other.


“When God calls us to wrestle with him, there’s always more going on than we first understand and God always uses it to transform us for good.” -Jon Bloom

The truth of the matter is, I am in a battle and it’s not against God. Yet, sometimes I wrestle with God’s will because, if I’m being honest, right now, I don’t really like it. But the more I try and fight for my will the more miserable I become.

As hard as it has been I do pray that just like in Jacob’s case, God prevails in my life. He knows what He’s doing and knows the plans and I do not. For now, I will keep waking up and asking for help because I cannot do it on my own.
Song of the week: You Pursue, by Out of the Dust

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Navigating Through Land Mines

It hits you out of nowhere. Suddenly these triggers send tears pouring out of your eyes from the what feels to be the deepest part of you.

 

You hold your chest, hoping that the pain inside will somehow go away. Maybe, if you hold on to it long and hard enough, your broken pieces will come back together.
You don’t care about the people in the parking lot around you as you wheeze through the sobs. Trying to control yourself, yet knowing, it’s useless. A dam has broken. This pain needs to come out somehow. You haven’t cried in so long because you grew weary of it. 

Triggers.

Have you been there? Have you set foot on an emotional IED? Have you found yourself crying uncontrollably, not being able to pull yourself together?
I have. It is a hard place to be. It’s a battle to focus on truth. It’s a battle to pick yourself back up after a beating by a storm surge of emotions. You feel as though you’re sucked back to the place you never wanted to be again.
When you’ve experienced pain induced by someone, the aftermath is like walking through a land field. 

Before the harm took place, you walked carefree, and without worry. Then someone overstepped their bounds. They entered your life and caused damage. All of a sudden your world becomes pitted with bombs waiting to go off. You have to navigate through an emotional flare up. 

You walk cautiously, looking around. You step slowly. You try to figure out if the ground looks tampered with. But sometimes, no matter how cautious you or I may be, our other foot hits a mine. We find yourself trying to put yourself together again. Trying to calm yourself down you say, “They didn’t mean it”, “They aren’t the person who damaged you”. 

But anything could trigger an explosion. A trip to the nail salon. A car ride. A trip. A word spoken. A situation. A closed room. As you navigate each explosion, you quickly learn where the triggers are. In a sense, you have to learn, pray and strive after being carefree and trusting again.

If you have been under or around someone who did damage to you, I want to say, I am so very sorry. I’m sorry you have to not just feel the pain in the instance, but also years later.
Life is messy and people are broken. We all know from one extent to another the deep wounds we can experience at the hands of another. Let’s be honest, our world is broken..

If you find yourself in this situation of mining through your triggers, I want you to know that you will have more emotional IEDs. However, I want you to know that while you’re crying, God sees. He is with you through the sobs and wheezing. He is holding your broken pieces. He is truthful. He won’t mess with your mind. In fact, He tells us, “In this world you WILL have troubles”. He also says, “but I have overcome the world”. Yes, He has overcome our broken world.

None of us wish for brokenness. We want to remain whole, but I am learning that the deeper we are hurt, the more our heart expands.

 

Each scenario we face, when we surrender it to God, can be used to help someone else. So although we don’t like hitting land mines, we don’t have to fear them. God knows how to use them for our good and His glory.

 

Remember the worst thing in life is not a broken heart, but a callous one.

 

I heard a song say, “Love as if there were no such thing as a broken heart” (Old dominion). That’s my goal. I am broken, but I’m not useless, in God’s economy that means He can remake me, making me more useful! What someone may have seen as trash, God sees as treasure. What someone may have seen as weak, God sees as strong. What someones else may have seen as an easy target, God sees as a heart to cherish and pursue.

 

Don’t give up friends. We need each other, and we all need more love. Maybe our brokenness is the gateway for more love to occur.

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 4:10
  • “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” Psalm 103:8
  • “The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” Jeremiah 31:3
  • “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you” Isaiah 43:4-5