Ever since I was a kid growing up in Washington, DC, I’ve been a bit of a scrapper. My earliest scuffle that I can remember was in kindergarten. A kid took my crayons and wouldn’t give them back. At recess I asked for their return politely, several times with increasing intensity, but still no crayons. At this point, playground rules in 1980’s DC dictate that we throw down. It was either stand up to this punk kid, or never again illustrate beautiful pictures with my favorite cornflower-colored crayon. He leaned in to push me, so I shoved him to the blacktop hard enough that he dropped my crayons. I scooped up my Crayolas, looked down at him and repeated with my best street tone, “I said, GIMME MY CRAYONS!” Then I turned and walked away the victor, with my rightful belongings restored.
I was always a strong-willed child. My mom tells me stories about me when I was two years old, literally daring her to “go ahead and spank me” for my persistent defiance and disobedience that day. She is probably relieved that my stubbornness led me into ministry, instead of becoming the leader of a gang.
Growing up, I approached most of life with that same undaunted tenacity. I would try to first handle things peacefully and with some grace, but deep down I always knew, that if I needed to, I could take life’s punches and still get back up.
What I quickly discovered however, is that it is much simpler to get back up when you’re on a playground and it’s only crayons at stake. You don’t have to be an adult long before you start weathering blows that sting a whole lot more. Maybe it’s the time-stopping phone call that brings news of serious illness for yourself or a loved one. It could be getting the next round of bills and having to decide which ones not to pay so that your family can buy groceries that week. For some, it’s hearing the doctor say, “We can’t find the baby’s heartbeat, we’re so sorry”.
Life can be mean and so very hard. It’s not fair and I get it. It’s the awful kid on the playground all over again, only this time you can’t push the bully named “grief, stress and anxiety” to the blacktop in self-defense. It can begin to feel like you’re fighting a battle that you can’t win, just swinging away at thin air until you feel exhausted and defeated.
All of those scenarios I listed above are my own. I have lived them. I have taken those hits square on the metaphorical jaw, and yet somehow, I’ve gotten back up. It is not through sheer determination of the will or by some rare form of strength that I get back up. It is the power of Christ in me and around me, that pulls me up out of the mud, and sets me upright again on solid ground where I can stand.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”
Time and time again, I have found myself in over my head, facing a fight I can’t possibly win on my own. It happens so often in my life that I actually started wondering if anyone else has this many problems. I found myself asking in my pitiful state, “Why me? Why do I have to endure all this?”
As the last part of Psalm 40:3 says, “Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” As a Christian, a woman, a mom, an employee, people are watching to see if I will get back up when life knocks me down. How I walk through crisis, big or small is a testimony to God at work in my life and in the world around me. While I can’t control what trials will come my way, I can control how I choose to navigate those challenges.
Sometimes God grants me strength to fight the good fight like in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” Other times, God is lifting me out of the mud to set me on solid ground again, like in Psalm 40. In every situation, God is always working on my behalf, allowing others to witness how He is at work in my weakness. It is only through Jesus that I am the “Get Back Up Girl”.
My job is not to engineer my success or come up with plans A-Z of how I will avoid painful situations. My job is to ready myself and stay connected to the One who strengthens me and never, ever lets me down.
In Ephesians 6:13-18, we hear about the armor of God that equips us for everything life can throw at us. We can put on the belt of truth to keep us thinking clearly and a breastplate of righteousness, so that we don’t have to be ashamed—we are made righteous through Christ. Our feet are fitted with the good news of peace and the best part, we get a shield! When we are weary from the fight, we can rest secure while the enemy’s arrows glance off of us. On top of it all, God gives us a helmet of salvation that gives us hope, along with the powerful weapon of His Word.
We have all of this from God, to equip us to get back up. My friend, if you are battle weary and worn out, let Him pull you back to your feet today, place you on solid ground and give you peace. If boldness and strength are what you need, our God will supply it. You are loved beyond measure! I know in times of hardship that can be hard to believe, but God loves you so very much. Hear Him cheering you on, “I’ve got you! You can do this!” Now, get back up girl!
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to get back up. – Ephesians 6:13