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Posts Tagged ‘Martial Arts’

I have an announcement to make.  I’m done with the status quo.  I’m tired of living in fear of change, risk, rejection, terrorists, house fires, kidnappings, super germs, bed bugs… whatever.  I have decided henceforth to stretch the edges of my comfort zone outward.

Don’t laugh at what I’m about to tell you.  (OK, you can.  I won’t hear you.)  I actually drove in the snow.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Oooo, Wendi.  You are so daring!”  All right.  Maybe a little back story is in order.

I grew up in Montana.  Snow is a way of life there.  People just learn to cope with it.

But now I live in the South.

Southerners don’t care much for any kind of precipitation, especially the frozen stuff.  If there is even a threat of snow, school will be cancelled.  In all my years in Montana, I can remember school closing for snow twice.  Ever.  Now that I have lived here for over a decade, I have become a snow wimp. 

School was cancelled on Monday because of “inclement weather” (i.e., a teeny amount of snow).  Mondays are also when I have karate class.  I won’t miss karate class unless I’m …well… dead, so I had a choice to make: drive in snow, or miss class. 

Before you think I am outrageously anxious, I will tell you that one time in Montana, I nearly slid off the edge of a snowy mountain in my car.  God spared my life, but that is a story for another day.  For today, I can tell you that I made the trip to karate class in spite of my nerves – and I lived! 

If you reside anywhere north of Tulsa, you probably think my fears are foolish.  Truthfully, I would agree with you.  I used to be able to drive in snow all the time.  At some point, though, I forgot how…

Imagine how small our fears and anxieties seem to God!  The phrase “do not be afraid” appears in the Bible seventy-five times, by my cursory accounting.  He keeps telling us that He’s got everything covered, but we choose not to believe. 

Bluntly put, fear is not of God. 

He has big plans for you, so don’t let fear hinder you.

Hold every thought, especially the fearful ones, captive to Christ.

Do the scary thing.

Act on the Spirit’s callings.

Maybe even drive in the snow.

our snowman

“Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”  (Isaiah 44:8, NIV)

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Pride is something we all must guard against.  It is an attribute that we hate in others, but often don’t recognize in ourselves.  Some people have such trouble with pride that God has to do crazy things to address it – like stick them in a karate class.  Yup, I’m talking about me.

Karate has given me repeated lessons in humility, but the harshest one came shortly after I became an apprentice black belt.  (At this point, a person is considered an instructor, and is given the title “sensei.”)

I admired the “Instructor” patches on the karate uniform of one of my mentors, Sensei Joanna.  I figured I should strive for that decoration on my uniform, too. 

I shared this desire with her and my sensei.  Big mistake.  The two exchanged a look which told me immediately that I had crossed a line, a look that said, “Oh, dear.  The baby black belt has just stepped in a big pile of doo-doo.”

After they enjoyed some good-natured chuckling at my expense, Sensei Joanna gently took me aside, and explained, by way of story, what I had done.

“In my dojo,” she said, “there were things displayed which we could buy.  I saw these ‘Instructor’ patches, and I coveted them.  I asked my sensei what rank I would have to be before I was allowed to wear them.  He said, ‘Oh!  You can wear them now!’

“So the next class, I walked in, proudly displaying those patches on my sleeves.  The other black belts laughed at me and said, ‘What’s with the patches?’  

“I asked my sensei if I could take them off.  He said, ‘Oh, no.  You will keep those.  You wanted them, so you will wear them.’  Because of my pride, they became my badges of shame.”

My eyes bugged as I realized that my own pride had slipped out and was hanging around my ankles.  Wearing a black belt hadn’t been enough.  I wanted more distinction, more bling on my uniform.  After all, I was an instructor.

And my sensei, chuckling and shaking his head, was watching the whole ugly scene… 

The jokes went on for weeks.  And just when I thought (rather, hoped) he had forgotten my prideful display, my sensei gave me an “Instructor” patch of my very own.  Mercifully, he didn’t make me wear it. 

God (THE Instructor) has forgiven me, so I don’t need a badge of shame.  But that patch sits in my desk drawer as a strong reminder of the day that my pride got out and did a little dance for all to see.

 my badge of shame

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Prov. 11:2 NIV)

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Jacob wrestled with the Lord and got his hip dislocated.  Lot’s wife disobeyed God and turned into salt.  Wendi argued with God and got a shiner.  Literally.

For those of you playing our home game, I wrote last week about my rebellion when God asked me to lay something down.  (See the article “Hissy Fit.”)  I have spent the last few weeks arguing, cajoling, whining and deal-making with God about what He has asked me to give up for His sake.

My pre-occupation with this internal struggle played itself out in a very real way this Saturday during my karate class.  I was arguing with God, right there in the dojo.  I couldn’t focus, so I really shouldn’t have been working with my nunchaku (a.k.a. nun-chucks).

WHACK!

Before I go any further, let me be perfectly clear.  I do not believe that God goes around whacking people in the face with nun-chucks.  I did it to myself.   Now, back to our story.

I hit myself just under my left eyebrow.  It swelled up instantly and bled.  As Sensei was cleaning up my wound and icing it, he said, “You’re lucky that didn’t hit your eye.  God was looking out for you.”

I wondered, was God looking out for me, or was this instead some sort of heavenly karma for arguing with Him?  Hmmm… maybe a little of both.  One doesn’t argue with the Lord of the universe and come out on top.  But He was looking out for me.

As a parent, I can compare this scenario to when one of my girls was a toddler.  Sometimes, in the midst of a fit, she would thrash around so wildly that she would accidentally bang her head on the floor – and then get mad at me about it!  I would not give in to her wishes, but I would do my best to keep her from hurting herself.

I can’t be mad at God about this.  He only wants what is best for me – more than I can even imagine for myself.  And my rebellion hasn’t gotten me anything but a black eye.  Too often, I fight with God, and then blame Him when I hurt.

Maybe it is time to quit fighting.

Maybe it is time to “lay on down.”

Maybe it is time to submit to His perfect will…

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