After a week of frustration in my mind, I went to Barnes and Noble to get books for the LSAT. To prepare for law school and try to make my life move in some direction other than “out of control.” I found two huge books complete with practice tests and online programs, but distracted myself in the Christian Living section in hopes of finding a book that would fix all my problems and as fast as possible.
After quickly turning away books with titles like “a woman after God’s heart” and “the praying woman,” I came across this book that was written by a former UFC fighter. Fight for the Forgotten. My kind of book.
So instead of studying for the LSAT, I found myself reading about a UFC fighter who turned from a life of addiction to a life of missions for forgotten people. Engrossed in his adventures in Africa fighting for a lost and forgotten people, my heart began to reawaken in the best way possible.
But then he wrote about his decision to submit to Christ. He wrote in such a way I could relate to; that submission in the fighting world, and in “the real world,” is a really bad thing. To submit is to lose. When you submit in a fight, you are literally saying, “I give up, I lose, I surrender, you’re better, I’m done.”
I am not a loser. In my heart, in my mind, in my physical abilities, I do not submit. Whether it’s a fight, a competition, or a bull riding experience in Mexico, I do not give up, and I do not lose. It doesn’t matter if I’m hanging completely off the bull except for one extremity, I will use all my strength to hold myself up until I win. If a ref doesn’t call something in a fight, I would die, because I would literally rather die than tap out and admit defeat.
When I read about submission in the Bible, I skip the section. I reject the idea entirely when it comes to marriage. (So don’t ask if I’m dating anyone at Christmas. Obviously not.)
So while I’m reading this book, I’m literally getting tears in my eyes about this man having to submit to Jesus. This fighter is having to willingly lose – he is choosing to submit to the Lord, and it’s breaking my heart, because I know how hard it is to surrender. And all the sudden I realize that if I’m crying for someone else about the pain of submitting, I must have my own issues there.
And it dawned on me at Barnes and Noble in the middle of the children’s section where I was hiding that I need to fully submit. I need to lose.
I need to lose to my lust. I need to lose to my addictive hunger for anything that isn’t God. I need to lose to laziness and selfishness.
These past few years I’ve tried to surrender and take on my identity in Christ without fully rejecting my other identities. In my attempt to control life a little (and ultimately, it’s a mistrust that God can and will be the best guide and director of myself), I’ve settled for a life of chaotic cycles and repetitive addiction and sin.
It’s time to tap out.
I looked for a scripture to let me back out of raising my white flag, but I couldn’t find one. Instead, I found words of Jesus in all four of the gospels that say this:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
Deny myself. Lose my life. This isn’t an easy idea to comprehend. Singing worship songs makes it seem much better. I love songs about Jesus overcoming and being victorious. I love songs that glorify the reward and not the cost.
Someone’s got to lose. For Jesus to be the ultimate winner, someone’s got to lose. And I’m realizing that someone looks a lot like the broken parts in me. The broken parts that I’ve gone back to so many times for comfort and security. The broken parts that have gotten me through the first 23 years of my life. Need. To. Lose.
I finished the book and looked down at my LSAT study books. I no longer had any desire for that, and I only questioned, “What am I doing??” for half a second before returning those books to the shelf.
My adventurous spirit with newfound life awakened was not ready to tackle the monotony of law school in that moment. I’m not sure if I ever will be ready for that kind of life, considering my desire and love for life on the edge.
But I do know I’ve taken another new step on this journey with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. A new step of submitting, of losing and admitting defeat. I went home to my messy room and tapped out to laziness. My clothes got put away. I tapped out to lust, and went straight to bed. When I wanted to binge eat donuts (5 donuts is totally fine, okay) I tapped out to that hunger and read scripture instead.
Of course, I’m not getting it right every time, but I’m learning and practicing and asking God to help me trust Him. And with that, I raise my white flag unafraid in the scary waters of submission.