I have been away from writing for a while…not that I have had nothing to say! My husband can attest to that! The truth is that I have been overwhelmed lately with the busy-ness of life. My son just turned 13 in January and life for us went from crazy busy to….”what the heck happened to the last 6 months!!??”
I am loving every minute of it though! He is playing middle school basketball and thankfully he has remained injury free after a broken arm in the fall during the football season. (I am perpetually amazed at the body’s ability to heal from such a horrific event as a broken bone). We are driving here and there, playing so many different schools, meeting the neatest people all over the place, and watching these boys grow not just physically and in their athletic abilities, but also emotionally in their ability to handle stress, loss, wins, adversity and victory. It is a precious sight to see.
I myself had a very different experience when I played high school basketball. Ugh. It has taken me over 20 years to even be able to speak about these memories without cringing inside. I had never touched a basketball before my junior year in high school when I transferred to a new high school. Being close to six feet tall at that point, and one of only 5 girls in my whole class, there was an automatic assumption that I would join the team, and of course I thought, “why not?”
Let me just break right there and give you an interpretation I once read about the 4 stages of learning that we all go through in life. First, there is the stage of “unconsciously incompetent.” In other words, you do not know what you do not know. You have not even been introduced to the subject matter, and therefore you cannot possible comprehend the magnitude of what is to be learned. Big or small, you are clueless. Second, there is the “consciously incompetent.” This is to say, you are starting to get a clue. You realize you have much to learn, and you recognize the subject matter that needs to be studied, digested, taken in, learned. Then there is the “consciously competent.” You have been persistent in learning and you have reached competence in the area. You have mastered the material. Lastly, and many argue that none of us ever truly reach this stage in life with regards to any type of learning, you are “unconsciously competent.” This is the pinnacle – you have made it. You do not have to think about it, you just know it. You know everything on the material, and there is nothing left to learn about it. (Howell, WS (1982). The empathic communicator. University of Minnesota: Wadsworth Publishing Company).
Needless to say, having never picked up a basketball, and in my own naivety thinking I had nothing at all to lose, I was clearly in the first stage of “unconsciously incompetent.” Saying I had no clue was an understatement. I didn’t even know the rules of the game. I airmailed. I traveled. I bricked my rare shots. I was nervous and slow. I had loved watching the sport on TV only when Carolina could whip up on Duke a couple of times a season, but that was the extent of my basketball education.
Even as I transitioned into the “consciously incompetent” phase, it became very painfully apparent that I was not a natural in the sport either. As the season wore on, so did the erosion in my stomach before every game. Being in a small school, every game was hugely attended by every single person in the entire city I lived in and all surrounding counties (ok this may be an exaggeration but only slightly)….and the pressure was too much to bear. In addition to the humiliation of being a terrible ball player, I must also say I was a cheerleader – though my skills here were a little better as I had been in this sport more aggressively since my middle school years. But what this meant in my small school was that after the girls game finished, and I was able to finally get out of that miserable basketball attire, I had to change over to the short skirt cheerleading uniform and grab my gear to stand in front of the same crowd who had just watched my awkward efforts in the preceding game, and cheer on the boys to a victory. Ugh. What a thing for a self-aware, self conscious awkward gangly teen girl to endure.
Can you pick out the tallest one? no wonder I had no choice in the matter of joining the girls basketball team….
I can look back and laugh now. Finally. There were many nights when that was not the case when I was in the midst of it all. I would lie awake the night before those games dreading what was ahead. My heart raced. I feared those games with a passionate visceral panic.
Psalm 27:11 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
There are times now that I have those same types of fears, which in hindsight should really be no cause for fear at all right? I mean, no basketball game ever harmed me in any way. None of my very gracious peers ever teased or taunted me – and for that they will never know how grateful I have always been….So why do I fear anything? The daily reality I live in now consists of different fears that try to come in the back door and creep in on me like an intruder: I fear rejection. I fear failure. I fear change. I fear my son growing up and leaving home. I fear my husband’s death. I fear the death of my family. I fear the death of my patients. I fear giving up caffeine. I fear gaining weight. I fear giving up the bad foods that would cause me to gain weight. I fear giving up caffeine (I just said that twice, you may notice). I fear fasting. I fear not fasting. I fear my long training runs with my running group and then I fear missing my long training runs with my running group. Even as I make these confessions, I feel my pulse quicken and my nervousness creeps in.
And yet I know that Jesus goes ahead of me and prepares the way in any endeavor I take. Every time I have to see a patient and deliver bad news, I know that the Lord has already prepared the way – he already knows the outcome!
After such experiences I can look back on the encounter and see how He had prepared the way. The patient who I dreaded talking too may have had a never-seen-before peace about the news. “I had expected it,” or “I felt like you were going to tell me that” have been some responses I have heard. (Jaw drops) Jesus is equipping me with the strength and wisdom for every situation…but even more miraculous, He has equipped and prepared my patients and families for what is about to happen. I have experienced too often the power or his preparation on my behalf to ever question is this is fact.
Isaiah 26:7 tells us this: “But for those who are righteous the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right and you smooth out the path ahead of them.”
He prepares the way!
We can rest assured that He walks ahead of us into every circumstance and every storm. Although we often do, we should not fear. Our fears will not change His mind – He will not abandon us to handle any circumstance alone.
But we also need to prepare our hearts and minds. We need to strive to make ourselves “consciously competent” when it comes to His word. If we do not equip ourselves with the power of knowing the scripture, then we are going into a battle every day without our armor, and the result is more anxiety, dread and fear if we allow the enemy an open door to get back in. You see, if you and I are so naive that we do not recognize how the enemy can sneak in our back door, and we do not recognize his schemes of planting fear in our heart instead of God’s placed faith in our spirit, then we are a set up to fall into the bondage of the enemy.
Knowing His word, by arming ourselves with the power of prayer and scripture will bar the door to the enemy. Fear of failure, rejection, loss are all fears placed on us by the enemy. The will of God will ensure our hearts that in the end, our LORD has our backs! He gives us the strength, peace and wisdom to handle the adversity that will surely come our way at some point in our life. The adversity might come today, or tomorrow or in ten years. It will come. But we will be ready.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood , but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:11-12
I thank God I do not have to do all of this alone! I cannot imagine! The world is hard enough. But God is sovereign. He never leaves us to our own devices as long as we call upon His name! Call upon Him in all times good and bad! Just like we love to hear from our loved ones – family, children and friends, on a regular basis, so does He too love to hear our sweet voices lifting up to Him, giving Him praise and thanksgiving even in great and prosperous times.
In this season of Lent, remember and believe in your daily walk. He is in the room, in your heart, fully present, fully ready to be the strength, wisdom and purpose for you. The enemy schemes and plots and tries to break you down, but he cannot, my friends, break down what God has built up.
If you have never accepted Christ into your heart, it is never too late. You are worthy and precious, and He is waiting for you. He welcomes all who believe and accept that He is the Son of God, and all who accept Him will have everlasting life in the eternal Kingdom with the only Living God.