Wednesday, April 24, 2019

fight



The yellow-lit table just behind the dark wooded restaurant’s host stand now held our phones and keys. I’d come through the door – only with the help of the valet man who kindly showed me the way even with his curious look at my propensity to just ask where the door was instead of finding it myself – and now I was sitting beside two people I’d recently met, one who I’d approached with the same gumption I showed to the valet man. I liked her, and when I make up my mind that I’m going to be friends with someone, well, buckle up.

Fight.

I’d asked about her recent road-trip, and she’d been honest. There was a breakup that was shadowing over her, but she spoke the truth of the light she was seeing even as she was, in many ways, still in darkness. “I realize I need someone who will fight for me.”

Cliché? Maybe a little. What does it even mean? It’s up for interpretation. But, her honest words in the amber-lit taco haven struck me.

Fight.

A few days later, I’d walked away from small group down the street. Big TVs and too-full tables, we were still standing in the entry. The light from the phone screen still illuminating her eyes, her words tumbled out: “Amanda’s pregnant.” Instead of flashing happy-joy-goodness, anger flared. Immediately. A person who was supposed to be as close to me as a sister, who’d lived in my house through much of my growing up years (and hers), who shared blood with me, hadn’t even included me in the cousins’ group text where this announcement hit in. Coward. She served the news to my sister who could softly catch it and distribute versus me who’d give fire right back to her. Coward. Not living the life we dreamed of as girls, she was single and unreconciled, and I was mad at her, mad at me for being mad, mad at the dad, mad at brokenness in the world, mad that I couldn’t call her and celebrate.

I just wanted to punch something. To fight.

The space bar blinked up at me, an untyped email draft still drating. I blinked back. Emails and details. Then her chat popped in. She was mad. She’d overheard a conversation by a friend turned not-so-nice about something they both had worked to put together, with me. This friend had thrown my friend under the bus, in front of her. And it involved a handsome face masking an arrogant attitude to make her flip. I was livid. For my friend, for the situation that still was to happen, for my role in it all. This added to my emails and details and politics and frustrations and impatience sent my feet, to the stairs. I’d climbed 15 flights of them before to cool down; this time it was only 8.

I just wanted to punch something. To fight.

So, I did. The navy-blue car climbed the five levels of the parking ramp to the top. We slid into a spot, slipped down the stairs, and came into the boxing class. One trainer wrapping one of my hands in the black strands and another trainer on the other side, I was rushed through punches and landed next to a punching bag. Burpees, sit ups, planks, push-ups, I was jab cross jab right hooking my way to happiness. Sweat on my face, heart racing.

 I just wanted to punch something. To fight.

And this wasn’t anything new. I’d put my lunch box back in the blue tiny lockers and speed walk outside. I’d volunteer, to be the one racing to the rectangular bin that caged the soccer, basketball, and volleyballs from the rushing elementary schoolers. First come first serve. I lived for this. I’d hit the sidewalk, and my shoes would hit their rhythm of sprint. No one wanted to end up with the flat spheres, so I’d make sure I secured my friends’ a first pick, and I’d make it down the coned-off street and back to the end of the sidewalk before my friends even arrived. Because school meant classes where sometimes I just got bored, where the teachers played favorites, where the cute boys would pick me first for the sports teams and then taunt me with one-finger high-fives, where I’d sit back quiet, quiet hating how I seemed to not fit in.

I just wanted to punch something. To fight.

Because, deep down, I have always been restless. In this season of transition, I finally slowed down enough to feel and hear and watch the somersaulting of my own mind. And I’ve been scared at what’s actually there when I take the time to look.

I had written in my journal, about five months ago now. I was searching, wondering for where the Deborah I really knew had gone. I felt frustrated at the injustice, at the reality that she’d been forced to go even when no one had asked her to leave, even when she’d been under so much stress and pain and how now was supposed to be the time to thrive. I’d journaled, I want Deborah back.

I just wanted to punch something. To fight.

To fight to have her back. But in the meantime, I was balking. I saw the texts from friends pile up on my phone, feeling zapped of energy or desire to communicate with the world. Fighting this nagging inside that people care and isolation is self-incarceration. I heard the voices of laughter across the hall, and my feet flip-switched to head back the other direction. Fighting this nagging that I needed to actually risk talking to these too-cool-for-me strangers who really were actually just humans following Jesus that I was to prideful to risk being known and unwanted. I saw her sitting, alone, and I also saw a different friend who could intersect me before I got to her path. And I took the easy conversation, fighting this nagging inside that I was taking the cop-out, the place where I wouldn’t have to risk looking weak, looking answerless to ease her pain, having to feel helpless to make a difference.

I was fighting.

But I wasn’t fighting for people. I was fighting against them. I was fighting the people who wanted to pull me close even when I was the closest to the end of my rope as I’d ever been. I was fighting the people who wanted to lift some of the burden I buried myself under instead of seeking their understanding. I was missing opportunities to live beyond myself by risking discomfort to bring comfort to others. And I was fighting myself, fighting against fully embracing the pain and the sadness and the fear that were making my living feel like shadowing, making my full breaking morph into shallow breathlessness.

I just wanted to punch something, to fight.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1).

I am a fighter.

I want to fight for people. I want to fight with them. I want to live a bold, daring, risky life that puts itself on the line for other people. But, I only have enough time and energy to fight one. I can fight the work that God is doing internally, or I can let Him give me the fight to war against my selfishness and anger through the Holy Spirit’s transformative power. I can fight the moments and conversations and days and places that the Lord is using, or I can re-channel that fight to push straight to thankfulness for anything in my life that brings me to a place where I fight to know more of Christ, to be more like Christ, to fight to know Him and make Him known.

I just want to punch something, to fight.

And I pray we learn to fight what does not matter so that we are freed to fully throw ourselves into the thrill of the chase of that which does. That we fight our small view of life and pursue the big dreams of God. That we fight our cradling of our own safety and pursue creating character for His kingdom.

That we fight, for each other.

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I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

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