This week I learned something new about myself.
I hate doing things that I am not good at doing.
For example: Don’t ask me to sing in a public place. I will run away. I am not a great singer, so singing in public, in front of tons of people, would be… mortifying. (There would also be a chance that those people would walk away with significant hearing loss.) Also, don’t ask me to play golf. I’ll leave that to my Dad and my little brother, Brian. Let’s just say that the only time I tried to play golf was with my little brothers’ golf clubs when I was 16. (Take note, I’m left handed and my little brother is not. That should tell you something…)
But ask me to climb a tree, sketch a picture, or make french toast, and I will do it gladly.
So this week, I have been faced with several different challenges that have made me feel really inadequate, weak, and uncomfortable. Let me lay it out for you.
Firstly: My new friend Petunia and I had an amazing breakthrough with an idea for a ministry opportunity. We want to work with girls ages 13-20 in the Kayamandi Township, mentoring them and empowering them through small group discussions, discipleship, bible teachings, life skills, and spoken word lessons. We want these girls to see themselves the way God sees them, as precious and priceless young women who are loved and cherished. We want them to take ownership of their testimonies so that they can heal from their past hurts and share their stories with the world through writing and spoken word. This is all very exciting. Except for the fact that these girls don’t speak very good English, nor do they speak very good Afrikaans. They speak Xhosa. I have no idea how to speak Xhosa. I am going to have to learn a completely new language (with click sounds) completely from scratch.
The thought of not being able to communicate with these girls is frustrating. So I have two options. I can sit and pout about it, and work in a different location, or I can “woman up” and learn this new language—clicks and all. Yes, I am incredibly weak in this area, and yes, I will probably look and sound like a fool when I first start learning. In spite of that, I know the rewards will be worth all the embarrassment and struggles. When I was preparing to come back to South Africa this past December, I prayed that God would keep me humble and dependent on Him. Looking at where I am now, it’s obvious that He’s answering my prayer. (Disclaimer: be careful what you pray for.)
Secondly: I am playing a new position on my soccer team. Now, this isn’t the end of the world. Thanks to my Dad, I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4 years old, so I have a solid understanding of the game and it’s tactics. However, I have been playing in the same position on the field for the past 13 years. Center back. This season, I am playing in a new position that I haven’t played in since I was 11 years old. This is intimidating, especially at this level of play. This week at soccer practice, I felt really dumb. I felt like I had no idea what the heck I was doing, and it was so frustrating. I couldn’t execute anything properly, so my confidence pretty much disintegrated into thin air. God and I had a nice little chat about it on the car ride home. (And by “nice little chat,” I actually mean that I had an emotional breakdown and threw a temper tantrum in the car because I was completely humiliated.)
I am an incredibly competitive individual. If you doubt this, just ask my parents—they’ve experienced my wrath during Family Game Night’s. So, when I fail and don’t perform as well as I want to, I get discouraged and depressed. I do not like to be perceived as weak. I think it’s a pride thing (that I need to get over). But there’s an upside to this story: When I spoke to my coach about it after practice, he responded to all of my complaining with, “You are a warrior, are you not?”
Holy Bananas. I almost felt over. Nothing pierces the heart more than having the truth you’ve been preaching to yourself for years being preached back in your face during a time of doubt and struggle. His words couldn’t have been more perfect (or more convicting). My coach was right, I am a warrior, and I love a challenge. Where did my strength go? Where did my boldness go? What happened to my confidence? It only took a few difficult challenges to forget who I am, and that’s unacceptable. So what if I look stupid or sound stupid for the next few weeks or even the next few months? If I practice and learn, then I will get better and grow. It’s that simple. I will reap what I sow.
Last night, God reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Instead of being scared of feeling weak or “not good enough,” I am going to work on giving my all in everything I do. I realized that if I do my best and offer my best, no matter how flawed it may be, it is enough. I am constantly having to remind myself that God doesn’t love me because of my soccer skills, my writing skills, or my ability to understand Afrikaans. He loves me because I am His. He loves me because He chooses to freely and unconditionally love me every single day, and honestly, that’s a hard thing for me to grasp. But each day, as the Lord walks with me on this faith journey, I discover a little more about Who He is and about what it means to be His daughter. And as each adventure and challenge unfolds before me, I am drawn one step closer into His loving and merciful arms.