This is a story about Victory.
It started in October. I was entering a season of my life where I felt really lost. The path seemed to be filled with thick muddy water, each step more tiresome and confusing. I was facing the temptation to “give up on life”, and recalled the moments of my past when I chose to let myself be defeated. I was determined to choose something else this time…so I signed up for a marathon. I had 100 days to train.
Running has always been my place of power. I was 14 when I first realized this. It awakens something in my spirit that urges me to fight harder, to push longer, to rise up above the storm.
I started my training off by running a 10K race. 6.2 miles felt like a long stretch at the time, and it was. I finished that race thinking, “What the hell was I thinking? 26.2 miles? I am screwed...NO. I can do this. It’s in my blood” That conversation continued almost every day after that.
My 5am workouts quickly ensued. Life was not getting any easier, but defeat was not an option this time. I remember literally saying to myself, “Suck it Satan. Your chance is over with me.” HA. I am not kidding. At the end of the month, I went on a spiritual retreat in Phoenix. At the end of the retreat, the priest told me something I will never forget.
In his New Zealand accent, he looked at me and said, “You know something. You’re like a piece of driftwood out in the ocean, right? It’s big and scary and you don’t know where ya going…but you know what. God’s hand is underneath that piece a’ driftwood, right? And all ya hafta do is just sit with him. Just look at ya. You’re young, you’re beautiful, you’re incredibly talented. And God’s got you in his hand ….and he’s holding you up to the world …and He’s saying, ‘Here she is….my daughter…. just look at her….what will she be?’ … “
I sat there on the verge of tears. How easy it is to forget the way our sweet Father in heaven looks at us. It is a gaze of pride and joy. I started to think about that phrase in prayer. “Here she is….” and it started to take root deep in my heart. The turning point began.
This is not where my story got easier. Without giving too many details, I felt like I was being crushed by the weight of the world. The muddy trenches were only getting thicker and darker. The tears kept coming, and steadily. The Holiday season approached, and at a time when you are supposed to be happy and warm, it only made my struggles feel that much worse. I still felt lost…but I kept my running shoes on, and I tied my laces tightly.
“...but you, beloved, are not in darkness; so that day will not surprise you like a thief. All of you are citizens of the light and the day. We do not belong to night and darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 (I wrote this in my prayer journal the day after Christmas.)
In the midst of the muddy mess, God kept showing me subtle hints that He was watching over me, that He hadn’t abandoned me, that He was listening. A friend making me dinner without being asked to. A moment of consolation in prayer. An encouraging text. A bestie saying a prayer over me on the phone. God was showing up in the little things. I begged him to show me His hand under my “piece of driftwood”. I wasn’t getting any magical answers, but God was showing up, and mercifully granting me the grace to see His hand through it all.
The holiday season came and went, and my marathon race was fast approaching. Many days of training went into the books. Bleeding feet, aches and pains. Bruises and blisters. Sunset jogs and rainy runs. 6 miles turned into 8, turned into 10, turned into 13, 16…18…..and there I was. The night before the race. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. As I started to inscribe people’s prayer intentions on my arm, I kept repeating the bible passage God gave to me for training.
“...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31
Then I thought about the words of the priest… “Here she is….”
And I started to imagine God watching me run this race on a big screen TV in heaven, with all the angels and my favorite Saints and deceased relatives. I imagined him saying to them…”Look at my daughter. There she is…” with the over joyful pride of a Father. And I ran that race with my head held higher than ever before. God was asking me to put on the armor of victory. He invites us to put on this armor every single day of our lives.
I ran that race feeling like I was floating on the grace of God. As I crossed the finish line, I could hear a voice whisper in my heart, “My daughter, I have destined you for greatness. You were born for victory, and the battle has already been won.”
The runner’s high from the marathon eventually wore off, but there was something different about me from that day on. I was always a generally confident person, but would still face the usual challenges of insecurity, self acceptance, and worthiness for love. It was time for my monthly women’s bible study, and we had a discussion that left us all on fire. We read about Jesus casting out demons…and it somehow turned into a discussion about Moana ?
We started talking about how much authority she has over her identity and purpose. She introduces herself in that movie repeatedly proclaiming who she is, and what she was made for.
“I am Moana of Montunui. You will board my boat, sail across the sea, and restore the heart of Te Fiti.”
She doesn’t bat an eye.
This is what I call KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY. When the storms wage war in your heart, you don’t flinch, because you know who you are in the name of Jesus.
We are children of victory, and no storm can shake us. We are daughters of a KING. We are warriors for an eternal kingdom.
And then the challenge began. We asked each other to write our identity down on paper, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us our names. I was pumped. I am from a big fat name-calling family. When you have 10 siblings you might easily have 10 nick names. This time, though, I was asking God to give me some. And wow….He showed up.
These were not a collection of names that I could say I was living up to every day…these were names that through His grace, I was choosing to believe I could embody more fully, more courageously, and more honestly.
As I wrote these phrases out in my journal, I could hear God reading them up in heaven. There is a reason behind each one…a story for every word. This is the identity I choose to root myself in, and I go back to it often. There are days when I don’t feel like I am enough, and days when I feel like I have disappointed someone or myself. I go back to this, and I claim it with authority over my life, and spit in the eye of the devil. “Satan, your lies have no place in my heart anymore.”
“Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit.” 1 Peter 3 : 18
Today, I look back on these moments with such gratitude. Where would I be without the patient and unfailing love of my Abba father ?
If you have made it all the way to the end of this post, congrats. There is no prize, only a challenge. Go and ask God who you are, and He will surely tell you. Ask him in faith….and He will show up.
My sister, you were made for glory, and victory is your rightful place. The Kingdom of God has called you by name, and it is time to RISE.
“Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!” Song of Songs 2 : 10