I’ve been asked to give my testimony at our next small group meeting; this entire week it’s been a small tornado of thoughts, memories, turning points, and changes of my life thus far. No surprise it would spill out here… It’s long, but maybe it’ll be refreshing for your soul.
I grew up in a home where my parents loved Jesus and loved each other. We were involved in church from elementary sunday school to youth group, and to be honest I never got to a point where I resented that life. I’m grateful for my upbringing, thankful for how my parents always did their best to point us to Jesus (and still do). I also have a sister — if I am day, she is night; if I’m orange juice, she’s toothpaste — vastly different, but we’re good friends now.
Growing up I was a mellow kid-turned-teenager. I wasn’t the rebel type, although I am a passionate person. I followed “the rules” but it wasn’t because I wanted to be the favorite, the rules made sense to me. What my parents expected of me, what my teachers asked of me, what I knew God desired of me: I used the rules to my advantage: studying hard to get good grades in school, saving myself for marriage, not illegally drinking, pushing myself when it came to sports, doing my best not to make careless decisions… proving my goodness… worth, I would even say.
I entered high school and found another major passion in life: track and field. My junior year I tried my hand at the hurdles, and fell into step with them as if my body had been born to do it. And I loved it. (I even did a speech about proper hurdle technique! Wowzers.)
When I started winning all my races, breaking school records, I started hearing things like “You know, you could probably get a college scholarship doing this.” Knowing that scholarships would help get me out of town for college, senior year I started the legwork to make it happen, praying that whatever God had in store for me regarding college would come to pass and the decision would be clear to me.
That winter, playing basketball, I broke my left foot. My navicular bone, to be exact. I crutched around as I visited colleges, feeling like it was seemingly impossible for any school to pick me up to compete in the hurdles looking like that. But, alas, a gold spot in Statesboro, GA, saw my attitude and determination and took a risk on me.
This next part gets a little long-winded, and repetitive.
Graduated high school, trained all summer to start my collegiate track and field career at GSU, and after the second week of practice I was back in a walking boot. I ended up getting a medical redshirt for my freshman year and started having x-ray after x-ray to figure out why I was still in pain.
Those x-rays revealed a fracture line, and that February (2011) I had surgery to have two metal pins placed in that bone to stabilize it. I crutched around Georgia Southern’s campus, eventually started rehabilitation to get back to running, and spent the summer getting my body ready for our sophomore season. I start training and my foot was still in major pain. Turns out one of the screws had shifted, and needed to be taken out. That December (2011) I had another surgery for the doctor to remove said screw.
Thankfully, that recovery wasn’t as extensive, and I did get to compete a little. It obviously wasn’t what I expected, but I was grateful for the chance to race with my team. After that I kept training, only to find my foot was still bothering me, to the point of tears and limping to class after a practice. I saw a navicular bone specialist in Charlotte, NC and he said my options were: don’t have the surgery and never run competitively again, or have the surgery and receive the chance to try. Either way he said the surgery was better in the long run, so on May 2, 2012 Mom and I drove up and he put in a larger screw.
After that surgery I realized how exhausted I was from trying to make it in the collegiate track world. I was tired of trying and being set back, and I even wondered if it was what I wanted to do anymore. Because of my injury, I wasn’t as passionate about it as before, because things would be different.
Looking back on those three years, I realize why I war-ed so much with myself — I was trying to live up to an expectation and couldn’t. Collegiate athletes should look a certain way, they should be this kind of strong, this kind of fast… but my injury wouldn’t let up, so I felt as though I couldn’t be what people were expecting of me. I constantly compared, felt discouraged; I believed a lie that I wasn’t good enough unless I met expectations of others. And I carried that mindset around with me, and began applying it to other aspects of life without even realizing it, even after I let go of my dream of running collegiate hurdles.
Enter life-after-track/adult life. These expectations took the form of what I would now refer to as (like the Bible) “the law.” Like the rules in high school, I followed the law, proving myself, doing well. But in retrospect, an ugly problem surfaced: when proving myself by my ability to obey the law, I ended up paralyzed by anxiety of upsetting/disappointing people, stretching myself too thin, exhausting myself with pride; the goal was perfectionism, and I was trying to earn love. From my Heavenly Father, and from those around me. I had become so conditioned that to be ‘good,’ you had to meet expectations.
As difficult on my heart as it is to confess this, I fell so in love with order, direction and purpose that I missed the Savior. I missed His kindness (Grace) in setting me free from the law.
I missed the intimacy of freedom, confidence, and pure joy in Christ because I was running out in a frenzy of action, making things “better” or “right.” I missed the beauty of Grace in the face of sin, pride, self.
Grace comes in and reveals the mess that lies underneath and says,
“That’s okay. Life is messy. Perfection is not the expectation. You’re covered.”
I wanted to run around after grace and clean things up. I had it fixed in my brain that yes, grace was present and necessary and utterly wonderful, but that there was an expectation of me to add to it. I didn’t believe that it completely covered.
Whether I’m doing great things or not, Grace never fails to cover me. It could be my brightest moment, or my ugliest, Grace stays constant, unchanging, never budging from looking me directly in the eye to say “I still love you, and believe you are enough.”
Grace is messy! And sometimes I look within myself, or around my life, and I want to put things in order, fix things, or make myself look better, stronger, lovelier, etc. My flesh cries out for that, but today I fight, today I ask for help to walk in the Spirit.
What’s life like when you aren’t under the law? I’ll ask God to open my eyes and heart to that.
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:23-26
>> a little inspiration from here