Deeper than Defeat

Henderson-vs-Pettis-470x260Being so new to the world of fighting I’m consistently amazed at some of the genuine hearts that beat inside these ruthless fighters. I think from the outside it’s easy to see all the blood and think that only someone filled with some pent up pain or anger could inflict such violence on another person. But that is rarely the case with the fighters I meet and learn about as I begin to study martial arts.

This week was a hard one for me. Right after I got done writing a blog about celebrating my victory over fear with my first jiu jitsu competition, I hurt my shoulder again and began to wonder if it was wise to compete Saturday. Friday I was hit with anxiety as I battled inwardly with the decision of whether to compete or not. One voice kept telling me I was just chickening out and the shoulder wasn’t that bad. The other voice told me I was really feeling pain, and every time I’ve tried to ignore pain and do something anyway I just got hurt worse. Not to mention the possibility of me not being able to train for another month or more if I injured my shoulder more seriously. Finally I decided that there would be other competitions, and it was best to play it safe. It felt good to make the decision but I was really disappointed.  I couldn’t even bring myself to go watch the competition yesterday like I normally would have. This had seemed like the perfect way to get my feet wet and learn about how I mentally deal with competitions so I could prepare both physically and mentally for further competitions!

Thankfully yesterday was not a complete loss as far as preparing my mind for future tournaments. Last night I  got together with the guys at my gym to watch a UFC fight between Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson, two amazing fighters. The last time they fought each other it was a super close fight and went almost the full amount of time. This fight was opposite. Pettis caught Henderson in an armbar (a jiu jitsu move) early on and when Henderson’s arm popped he was forced to surrender. But what really astounded me was his response to this bitter disappointment in his career. To me it seems like a fighter’s biggest fear would be a quick defeat just like this one. I’m not even a UFC fighter and it was my biggest fear when I thought I was going to compete this weekend! But not only did Benson take it graciously, he even went on to highlight his opponent’s excellent technique in his interview!

This fighter proved to be so much deeper than his physical skill. He was able to act out of true character because his identity is more than his career as a fighter. Fighting is what he does. Who he IS is a son of God. And that’s why he was able to let it go and trust that God still has more good in store for his life, inside the ring and out of it. I want to be like that. I want to embrace every season of my life whether it’s a season of success, or the learning season of defeat. Next time I’m preparing for a competition I don’t want to be afraid of losing, whether it’s in 30sec or after a long intense fight. I want to go in knowing I’m prepared and I’m going to give it my best…but that at the end of the day, how I perform is not the whole of who I am. All of our dreams and careers must come to an end someday. I want to be more confident in who I am in Christ than how skilled or talented I am…because those things come and go, but Christ’s love never ends.

That being said…I still plan on competing someday and kicking butt at it too.


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