Almost two years ago we did this thing…we plotted and conspired. Scott even committed to doing something I thought wasn’t possible; I mean cows would fly before he would actually….
We competed in a sprint triathlon – together. Well, kinda, we were on teams. Scott participating as the bike leg was a way to introduce my brother and his wife to this new world in which I had started to dip my toe. The world of 3 events: swim, bike, run. But it was also a way to try to convince our families to show up for the race so we could make a HUGE announcement: ‘Baby’s 1st Triathlon’ – in some many ways, that doesn’t feel two years ago. I can remember sitting by the pool on July 4th going over all the details with Scott and coming up with ways to convince our family to show up as spectators. Those memories I hold dear.
I was reminiscing because I just signed up to do this race again in a couple weeks. For most this seems like small potatoes because I’ve done it before and while yes that is true it will represent some firsts for me all the same.
- First race Post-Baby
- First race Post-Covid (if I am honest I thought I would at least do one last year in some capacity)
- First race to clip into my bike (that means I will be wearing bike shoes and not tennis shoes) and look like I know what I am doing (which by the way, I still don’t #beginner)
I’ve always been this way – any time I do something new or for the first time I approach with caution, I experience nerves, and sometimes, I believe the lies that surface – I don’t belong.
And then other times, you can have done something several times and still believe those lies.
In trying to pump myself up for this “thing” I have now committed to do, I was remembering my best race in Birmingham. I got to the race site early, with plenty of time to prepare and get acclimated. When you arrive, you are instructed to head straight to the loading zone, which basically means to dock your bike and set up your ‘transition’ area for the race. Typically, you are assigned a rack based on your swim time that you entered.
So, picture this with me: I walk up alone with no one around me and I see all these really, really, really nice bikes on my rack. I have to double check my number to ensure it was my rack because when I say really nice bike, I mean my entry level road bike looks like I got it 10 years ago from Goodwill!
Since I am vaguely familiar with triathlon bikes and I am good with numbers, I start to do the math…I think my rack accounts for close to $40,000 worth of merchandise and my bike can’t even cover the taxes! I even look around to see if anyone is going to come tell me I am in the wrong place – you don’t belong (because let’s be honest, one look at my entry level, standard road bike with the factory pedals tells any experienced racer that much).
I will never forget walking to lineup and landing in between 10 men, all with Ironman tattoos on their ankles (and if you don’t know what an Ironman is, go looks it up – this means they are like the ultra athlete). My brain couldn’t process fast enough, but the one thing I was sure of: ‘I didn’t belong and the something that didn’t look like the other was me.’ And then not a minute later, the guy behind said what we were all thinking: “hey, so did you enter the wrong swim time?”
I don’t even remember how I responded but hopefully with something clever and witty. I do know that while I was questioning myself, I also decided that while I was going to get smoked in cycling, I would hold me own during the swim. I may die trying but the guy behind me would NOT pass me in this event which in would mean he would know along with me that I did in fact belong.
I use this story to paint a picture for all of us because we have all been there – God calls you to something and you feel completely and unequivocally disqualified, like you don’t belong.
In the beginning, one of the first things, we learn is that Satan is a deceiver (Genesis 3) – Satan did not perform some long charismatic sales pitch as to why Eve could eat from the Tree of Life if she chooses, no he simply made a short precise statement, ‘You will surely no die.’ (Genesis 3:4)
This one statement not only made Eve doubt the word and direction she had been given from the Lord, but it changed the course of humanity. This statement produced an outcome that ushered in shame and guilt (See Genesis 3:8-10) and ultimately ungodly beliefs about ourselves, our purpose and our calling.
And no in my illustration above, I am not saying that Satan was using those bikes or those Ironman Competitors to show me something was not like the other and I didn’t belong; but what I am saying is that when I lined up to start the race, instead of deciding that I had been given the ability to swim and it happened to be my best leg of the three, I could have started to really believe I didn’t belong. And then what? Likely, to date, that wouldn’t have been my best race.
Let’s be clear here, you are the one who is defining the why behind being disqualified, not God, the one who called you in the first place.
And we are oh so good at producing those reasons: I am not smart enough; I know nothing about that; I don’t know enough scripture; I am not pretty enough; I don’t have enough insta followers; what if they don’t like me; what if it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
But what if the sole reason you’ve been called is for the ONE person? God’s way of using you to rescue the one, to minister to the one, to save the one? (See the parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18 & Luke 15). The one would be worth it, right?
Walking forward in faith to what you have been called too isn’t perfect and it can at times feel downright uncertain which then can feed a wide array of emotion but don’t let those emotions overshadow the purpose you have been given.
The hardest part could be that sometimes walking forward in faith comes at the questions and understanding of others. That’s okay – if the Lord called you too it, he will also remove the veil in the time.
When you come up against these ungodly beliefs or you start to recognize a lie you have mistakenly begun to believe, remember the charge Paul left with Corinthian believers.
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3
Paul was concerned about the Corinthian church because, as Eve had believed the lies of the serpent, these believers had started believing the lies of the false teachers who were leading them away from a devotion to Christ. So for us, Paul is reminding to remain focused on Christ, his sacrifice, his redemption, his promises, his kingdom.
And practically speaking, we do this by immersing ourselves in his word through scripture, through sermons, through worship music, through prayer and simply sitting in his presence. The more we do this the more clarity that will come. His voice becomes louder and the lies obsolete.
Some wonderful reminders:
Jonah 2:7 “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went to you in your holy Temple.”
Colossians 3:1-2 “Therefore, if you have been raised with the Messiah, keep focusing on the things above that are above, where the Messiah is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.”
(Side note: Good news you have been raised up as a follower and believer in Jesus Christ – see Ephesians 2:6)
Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
I have been through so many firsts over these last 18 months, and I know there are still more firsts in my future. I have tackled many things I know nothing about (like giving shots) and even when I have felt unqualified (anything medical and another little project I have been working on, hopefully an announcement coming soon) his love has never failed, and his truth is absolute.
I am continuing to learn what it means to be a momma, and I take up daily what it means to be the momma of an organ recipient. Some days are light, and others are not, and I am oh so grateful that on these days I have a place to go and spend some precious and intentional time with my Savior. It’s here that he quiets my fears and insecurities and it’s here his voice replaces the lies and the ungodly beliefs. He nudges me, and he reminds me that he has not only called me but he equips me with everything I need. (See Psalm 18:32;Hebrews 13:21) – and he will do the same for you.
So I want to encourage you on this July 4th weekend, to keep walking ahead, head high and ask Jesus himself to replace those disqualifying beliefs with qualifying ones. As we celebrate the birth our nation, spend time with family and friends we can reflect on how far our nation has come but, yet how we have still not achieved perfection. So growth and refinement must continue. But we sit grateful because ‘Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8
And in the meantime – we took Townes on his first airplane ride, first boat ride, first train ride, first aquarium and first trip to the beach last month! So. Many. Firsts.
Townes has become completely attached to our oldest (14 ½ yrs old) dog, Tucker. He jumps on his bed and nuzzles close; he sits in the crest of tummy when he’s lying down and when its bedtime, he walks over to give Tucker a hug and kiss before waving goodnight. Tucker is kind and patient. Tucker is everything you would want – It’s safe to say Townes has a best friend, and I suspect its mutual. Oh, be still my heart. Praying for as many months left as I can to enjoy those precious moments.
My heart leaps when I see pictures and videos of him playing in the sand. So, if nothing else, soak up his cuteness because I sure do. And he now only goes to the doctor about every 8-10 weeks, someone give me a Hallelujah!
Happy 4th of July and Happy Birthday America!