Earlier this week, I stumbled upon an old world race blog where a past racer talked about her experiences at training camp. (I will be going to training camp for a week in July to prep for the race.) As I read her poem, I quickly began to realize that camp is not going to be the “kumbayah, sing around a campfire, listen to some inspirational sermons, build teamwork skills on a ropes course” type of experience I had imagined it might be.
Fish head soup? Sleep on a school bus? Get up after a few hours of sleep to run hills in the dark?
(I really recommend clicking that link I posted up there to read her poem and learn more about camp.)
My eyes got wide as I read and I quickly declared, “I did NOT sign up for this!” (To which my roommate immediately replied, “Of course you didn’t… God signed you up for this!”)
My mind immediately went to some of the same places it goes when I think about the harder parts of the race. (really dirty squatty potties? how long without contacting home? Christmas abroad? live out of a backpack and in a tent? hike with 50+ pounds on my back?)
I began thinking, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. These people just don’t understand– I am a wimp. I don’t find joy in seeing how far I can push my body and mind. I want to avoid pain as much as possible!”
The next morning, I prayed about what I had learned about camp and my hesitations that I’m just not made of the spiritual, physical, and emotional stuff that this race requires of you. Then, I opened my Bible and God led me to Hebrews 11:24-25:
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Moses chose discomfort over privilege. As I thought that over, I realized that Jesus chose discomfort over privilege, too. He stepped down from His rightful place on Heaven’s throne, where He was worshipped and glorified and loved, and voluntarily came to Earth, where He was mocked, abandoned, tortured, and murdered.
God began speaking to my soul… You keep saying you are a wimp. You keep saying that you like to avoid hard stuff and pain. Stop declaring this as part of your identity. When you became my daughter, you were called to take on the characteristics of Jesus. Jesus embraced discomfort and challenges for the sake of the Gospel. From now on, your identity is no longer “wimp.” You have My Spirit inside of you, and I’m no wimp. Neither are you. Don’t say that anymore.
Part of me still wants to shrink back in fear, but God is telling me to stop declaring my identity as one who is afraid, one who is a wimp, and one who avoids trials. He wants to give me a new identity, one that reflects His, one that embraces discomfort and challenge for the sake of the Gospel.
My old identity: I am a wimp.
God’s new identity for me: I am strong and courageous!
My old identity: I avoid painful circumstances at all costs.
God’s new identity for me: I look to Jesus and endure the sacrifices for the joy set before me!
My old identity: I kind of want to stay here in the US where I’m comfortable.
God’s new identity for me: I leave all comforts behind, counting them as loss, for the surpassing worth of really knowing Christ!
My old identity: I see no purpose in voluntarily submitting myself to trials and challenges.
God’s new identity for me: I discipline my body for an imperishable crown!
My old identity: I don’t find joy in being challenged.
God’s new identity for me: I can be joyful about these trials because they will produce a steadfast faith!
My old identity: I’m just not so sure I can do this.
God’s new identity for me: I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength!
But you know what I’m saying back? That is ENOUGH. I will declare God’s identity for me until my emotions are in line with the Truth. I choose to believe I am who He says that I am and I’m not giving the enemy (or my emotions) one more day to define me as a scared, reluctant wimp.
I am all He says I am, and when He whispers in my ear, He tells me that I’m fearless…