My youngest son took a liking to wrestling the last couple years. We are a family of golfers. We like golf and baseball, you know, sports that don’t involve germ infested mats and head-gear and things called take downs and choke holds. We are a gentle, peace-loving people. But, James wanted to do it. So we supported him. It’s important to help your kids find the place where they can shine and use their abilities…and even learn, grow, and get stretched out of their comfort zones. We entered a world where, let’s just say, it was evident, we weren’t at the country club golf course anymore.
His first match, he quickly found out that his opponents weren’t going to be so gentle and forgiving as his buddies at wrestling practice. Time and time again, he was body slammed back to the mat with a force that seemed to shake the floor. The coach wasn’t there beside the mat to offer words of encouragement, like the coaches from the opposing schools. Not wanting him to be alone, I stood beside the mat…having no idea what to yell, as his face looking up at me in shock and awe, eyes wide, while a strong, sweaty arm encircled his neck. I could only shout, “Keep your head up…get up. Keep fighting.” He got up, only to find himself slammed back down again. And again.
The next match, his confidence was rattled. We stood by the mat, looking into the stony, dark eyes of a kid in a black singlet with a rat-tail haircut. I looked at James and saw sheer panic. He wears his emotions, not just on his sleeve, but on every inch of himself. His face was pale, lips dry, eyes revealing how much he didn’t want to be standing beside that wrestling mat.
He said, “Mom, I think I’m going to throw up.” I was pretty sure I might need to do the same.
Instead, I leaned down to him, and said, “You can’t let him know you’re afraid. You need to be strong. You need to think about how mad you get at your brother sometimes. Get mad if you have to. You can do this. You’re going to be ok. Just fight hard and do your best.”
It wasn’t working. Panic knows no reasoning.
I leaned down, feeling my own anxiety heighten as I pictured the cradle hold rat-tail boy put on the kid he wrestled before James. I leaned down and said, “Remember David and Goliath. Don’t worry about the size of the giant. God is with you, you can do this.”
And, then, seeing his little hands shake, I whispered, “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. You can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives you strength.”
He survived the match, and didn’t get pinned or flung like a rag doll. He fought hard…he mustered the strength. Improvement.
But, more importantly, he didn’t run and hide when he wanted to. He stood at the mat, he made his feet walk forward, he stood toe to toe with a scary boy ready to fight until the death…or um…pin. It didn’t matter. The biggest battle wasn’t fought on that mat that day. The biggest battle was fought…and won while standing beside the mat.
Oh how many spiritual connotations can be gleaned from his experience. How familiar the panic that gripped my son appeared to my own anxiety-ridden heart. I stand on stages and have most of my life, to sing and now to tell the story of the most sacred places of my heart. But, before. Before I stand on the stage a war rages…almost every time. I am the little boy, hands shaking, standing beside the wrestling mat, pale-faced and certain that I will puke. Sometimes I even do get sick. It’s a facing the giants moment every time I prepare to step out of my comfort zone and onto a stage or in front of a group.
The panic knows no reasoning.
No positive words of affirmation and encouragement can make me do the thing before me. No reassurances, no matter how true…that “I’ve done this a thousand times and I will be just fine” seem to even permeate the gripping anxiety. I want to throw up. I want to run. I don’t want to do this. At all. Fight or flight. I want to flee. But, like James, I must stand and fight.
The same way we fought the giant beside the wrestling mat….by using the only weapon in the arsenal strong enough to conquer the stronghold of the terror we are feeling in that moment. The weapon that’s sharper than a double-edged sword. God’s Word.
Ephesians 6: 11-13 ~ Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Sometimes the biggest victory happens in the standing…and the stepping.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
From The Message ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
- Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My
- enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.