“Everything you want is on the other side of fear” -Will Smith
Fear is paralyzing. Crippling. Debilitating. It is by far, satan’s greatest weapon (at least in my life). I mean, it has me imagining and reliving events that have never and may never actually occur. I’ve heard fear referred to as the “what if” demon.
“What if you fail?”
“What if you try this, and it doesn’t work?”
“What if you give it your all, and it still isn’t good enough?”
It’s like my mind stops being rational and begins to reflexively consume and regurgitate horrible scenarios, over and over again, until I am convinced of my (apparently inevitable) demise, before I’ve even begun. But, you know what I’ve discovered? If I keep pressing past my fear, something awesome happens on the other side.
This past week, I’d been fighting with myself about getting started at the gym. I know it may not see like a big thing to some, but it was a big deal to me. I’d worked so hard with a personal trainer, a little over a year ago and gotten so much stronger. I was about fifteen or twenty pounds away from my goal and was just starting to feel good. Really good.
One botched knee surgery, eight months of rehab and one super stressful move across the country later, I found myself right back where I started. Significantly overweight, ashamed and spiritually broken. I guess, in my mind, a journey was supposed to be from point A to point B. No one told me that I may get within arms’ reach of point B, just to start over at A again. I thought I was supposed to press, fight, struggle and, then, win. In that order. Maybe I watch too many movies, but I never anticipated losing.
James 1:2 says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
Trials of many kinds. That phrase just jumped off the page at me. My first thought was: “Why do I keep facing this trial? Why do I keep failing?” Then it occurred to me, this is not just a trial of food dependency and learning to control the flesh, this is a trial of repeated failure. In other words, how do I handle the trials of falling down.
I used to think I was running the same race as those around me, on the elliptical and squat machines at the gym. I used to compare my progress, my waistline, my speed, my agility, my weight and my strength to them, not even realizing we’re not even on the same road, let alone the same race. This gym is just a place where we momentarily cross paths, each on our specific journey.
Truth is, God knows I can press through a situation. If I can see an end point, I can press through darn near anything. But, what God also knows about me, is that fear of failure is my kryptonite. The thought of embarking on a journey, knowing that defeat and failure is a real (and maybe even likely) possibility, is immediately paralyzing. Why send me on a mission that I will fail? Because the mission is not to win, it is to learn how to stand up after I’ve fallen.
To learn to keep standing up, whether I’m spiritually broken, full of shame, bleeding or bruised. The mission is to finish the race, even though I may come in last. To face the trial and see it through to the end.
My kids and I took Tae Kwon Do for years. We competed locally and nationally, in tournaments across the country. When we would train to spar, our instructor would always tell us: “If you go down, go down fighting!” He would show us how to defend ourselves and even throw a kick or two while falling. Once we were down, he taught us how to fight on our backs, until we could get up again.
I’m telling you today, if you are falling….go down fighting. Let your opponent know you are not afraid of falling and you know how to fight on your feet and on your back. Just like we had to train to learn how to fall in martial arts, we have to train on learning how to handle a fall, spiritually, and how to master the art of getting back up again. Remind yourself that being down does not mean you are out. You keep fighting until you can get yourself back up.
If you are like me and find yourself in the same battles over and over again, consider that you too may also be learning to persevere, through failure. Just know that it doesn’t end in failure and continue to press toward the mark.
Choosing to continue to fight already means you are victorious. Don’t be discouraged, if you have to make that choice time and time again. You are learning to master perseverance. So, do not be weary in well doing, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up (Gal 6:9)
As always, thanks for reading!
Prayer: God, thank You for helping us learn the art of perseverance. Give us wisdom and insight, as we fight some of the most difficult battles we’ve ever faced. Help us encourage and uplift one another, as we struggle to pick ourselves up time and time again. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.