Faith is a fight. Can I tell you what a relief it is that Paul said that? Because when it's true in my life, I feel like I must be doing something wrong.
Lately, I've been fighting. Defensively, maybe, but fighting nonetheless. I've hunkered down under a heavy piece of furniture doing my best to cover my fear and discouragement with something big and strong. I wait for the earthquake that's sure to come but hasn't. My legs have gone numb beneath me and my muscles are weary from being held taut, at the ready. The waiting is beginning to mess with my head. I need the earthquake to happen already or to know it's safe to come out from under the coffee table.
While I've down here waiting for the storm to pass or relent, I've been thinking about my mother-in-law. I never once saw her cower under her circumstances. I swear that woman was nothing but grace and faith and a small mountain of quiet courage. Her walk with God was epic.
Was that real?
Because I've also been thinking a lot about being authentic and trying to embrace what He created me to be the best way I know how.
Part of me wants to just let it all hang out here in the name of authenticity and tell you that I'm slowly dying from a lack of oxygen, that a gray, foggy paralysis is settling into my heart and I'm not an overcomer. I'm defeated and weary. My strength and joy have been sucked away in small, unnoticeable measures over such a long period of trial that I'm all of a sudden surprised to find myself holding back tears with the Christian game face, all peaceful and victorious. If you look closer, though, you'll see it's hollow, fragile, and about to crack. I must have taken a wrong turn to have arrived at this vulnerable place.
So about my mother-in-law and so many other legendary giants in the faith—how did they do it? They made it look easy. You don't see their fight, but surely they did. Even Paul did. And who's more giant than the Apostle Paul? Only Jesus, and he, too, had to fight for it in the Garden of Gethsemane. Occasionally we get a glimpse into their fight from the outside, but usually not. Mostly they just look heroic and legendary.
It makes my cowering and quaking not all that impressive in contrast. But I'm tempted to be blatantly honest because so many in the blogosphere are cheering on those who are being genuine. I might get a 10 if you were scoring my relateability factor, but a dismal mark for inspirational. And I certainly can't say as Paul once did, "Follow my example as I follow Christ," because who in their right mind would come?
I'd much rather be seen as the hero. The superstar leader who has it all together with her 30-plus-year-old faith that guarantees clear sailing, is inspiring, and makes it look effortless. I have a reputation to uphold. "Yes. Please do. Follow me as I follow the example of Christ."
On the other hand, part of me wants to chuck my pride and not get out of bed tomorrow morning.
But Paul ran a race. Jesus left the Garden to face the cross. And my mother-in-law made the bed every morning without fail. Giants don't cower. At least not for long.
I've been doing it wrong. I'm not supposed to cower under heavy furniture. Faith is supposed to be my shield.
Are you in a fight? What shield are you using to be victorious?