I started taking kickboxing lessons a few years ago to fulfil a curiosity I’ve had as a teenager. There was something about how the fighters moved around the boxing ring and the impact each hit had that made me feel a victorious uproar. There was something about the resilience and strength fighters had between every round, more excruciating than the one before. Pain was inevitable, fighting through it was an option.
This post is not meant to glamorize the world of boxing or mixed martial arts or kickboxing. There are legitimate precautions when training and fighting that should be considered. I’m not ignoring that and neither should you. No, this post is about lovers and fighters because we are one and the same. It takes a lot of heart to fight and to love. Most of all, it takes an unshakeable, unbreakable source of stability to hold our ground when things seem to fall apart.
The first thing they taught us in kickboxing was how to stand, not how to jab or do a cool roundhouse kick. Why? Because how we stand has an impact on agility, the power of a hit and whether or not we keep standing after being hit. In so many ways, the way we stand has an impact on how well we fight through a battle, literally, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
What do you stand for?
A simple yet provoking question we’ve all seen in social media, billboards, TV commercials, or even election propaganda. These four simple words strung together speak to the core of our values and who we are as people. Whether we are easily swayed to get a bold sleeve tattoo or experience FOMO from seeing edited travel adventures on Instagram. It all comes back to the same place. So what happens when the fight gets tougher and longer? What happens when we don’t think things could get worse only to find that they certainly can? What happens when you feel like you’ve given it everything you have but nothing seems to be enough?
Where do you turn to when life feels disappointing, unfair and downright confusing?
Late at night I was sitting by myself at my apartment, my gaze fixed on the floor and my head laying on my sofa cushions. Tears started streaming down my face while music was blasting on the background, partly to drown the silence but mostly so that my next door neighbors wouldn’t hear my groaning. The only thought that echoed in my mind was, “I don’t know what’s worse, rejection, grief or betrayal?” I didn’t expect to have the privilege to experience all of those things within the same year, let alone in the same sentence. Bruises on my shins and an overworked shoulder didn’t seem as painful anymore. But it was a privilege because that much pain was an invitation to heal. That much pain was an invitation to grow more compassionate. That much pain was an invitation to expand God’s love and mercy.
Fighters are taught to fight through the pain and to use every last bit of human strength they have left – to give it their all. Some have an innate inclination to keep fighting, a fighting spirit. I am a fighter. Always have been and for sure not by my own design. God made me to be a fighter, but He also made me to be a lover so that when all of my human strength is completely depleted I can turn to Him.
The book of Ruth tells a story of a faithful Moabite woman who showed great loyalty, tenacity and integrity. Ruth became a widow early in her marriage but chose to stay faithful to God and her late husband’s family despite hunger, discrimination and extreme poverty. A lot of theologians interpret her story with great emphasis on her unwavering faithfulness and though I agree with those interpretations, when I reflect on Ruth’s story I picture a fighter. It would have been easier for Ruth to leave her mother-in-law, and it would have been easier to walk away from the marriage covenant that she made with God when her husband died. She’s human like us and would have had to fight through her grief, temptations and doubts. Yet she didn’t give in. Ruth chose to fight through multiple rounds and came out a redeemed woman of faith.
I’m not Ruth. But like Ruth, I have my own fight to bear. The reality is, the enemy will whisper and try to distract my focus from the transformation that God is doing in my heart. The enemy continues to do so every day. And when he does, these are the fighting words that I will choose to remember:
God is good even when circumstances feel cruel. God loves me in ways I may not understand sometimes. God has already redeemed all of us through Jesus Christ. God will give me the strength, patience, grace and empathy that I didn’t think I had more of. God will give me more love I didn’t think I can give others.
P.S. “She is not afraid of tribulation, for all her household is covered in dual garments of righteousness and grace.” Proverbs 31:21 (Passions Translation)