Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lessons From The Mats


It seems that Nick has found his sport...  wrestling!  He tried it a couple of years ago and didn't really like it, but a couple of his friends convinced him to try again last spring and he really loves it.  He started wrestling in matches at the end of January and I'm amazed at his progress...  He just keeps getting better and better!

I love watching Nick wrestle (that took a few matches to get to the place where I could honestly say that, it just looks SO painful)...  I don't think I've ever seen such determination and perseverance...  Last night he wrestled in the state AAU tournament and he was wrestling the guy who ended up winning first place...  The other guy was good, he was pinning everyone he wrestled with seeming ease...   And then he came up against Nick...  Nick took the early lead in points 5-1 and the kid didn't like it...

Somewhere along the way, the kid discovered a weak point for Nick, his left shoulder and from then on it was painful to watch...  He would take his head and grind it into Nick's shoulder and pull back on his arm.  Actually, I'm stunned that the move is legal, but it is and this kid was out to win, even if meant inflicting injury.  Twice, the ref had to stop the match so the kid wouldn't hurt him too seriously and at one point I really thought Nick was seriously hurt...  When Nick acts hurt, he is hurt...  He has a pain tolerance that blows me away...

But after a couple of minutes, Nick wanted to continue...  They ended up in overtime and Nick lost 9-8...  But I was so proud of him...  He fought so hard...

As he sat and waited for his last match, he looked at me and said, "I really don't want to wrestle again, I am so sore, but I'm going to see this thing through."  As his mom, I wanted to tell him to stop...  not to risk further injury...  but something in me told me to be quiet...  that this was important and as painful as it might be to watch, I needed to let him choose his course.

His last match started and as the end of the first round came close, his opponent got him on the floor, so close to pinning him (both shoulders have to be touching the mat for it to be a pin)...  But in spite of the pain, Nick fought and he fought hard... We watched him arch his back, push with his legs, twist and turn...  fighting to keep one shoulder off the mat and he managed to do that for a good 15 seconds...  I've never seen such fight and determination...  It was SO hard for a mom to watch...

The first period ended and the score was 5-1, that's really difficult to come back from in a match like this...  But before we knew it, Nick had his opponent on the mat fighting to pin him...  For a good 15 seconds Nick fought hard to get both of his opponent's shoulders on the mat and finally that beautiful sound of the ref's hand slapping the mat...  Nick had done it!!  He won and finished 3rd at his first ever AAU tournament!! 

As I've reflected on last night's match, a couple of things have hit me...

The first was about the wrestler who won first place...  Now let me say clearly, I am not in any way comparing this kid to the devil (although I probably felt differently last night)...  But there is such a parallel here...  The kid found Nick's weak spot and went after it...  Over and over and over...  His intent was to win, no matter what the cost was and that's exactly how the enemy comes after us...

He finds our weak spot and he goes after it...  Whether it's a tendency to gossip...  Be insecure...  Overeat... Drink too much...  Overspend...  The enemy goes after it over and over until he finally breaks us...

So what to do...  Well, one of the other dads who was watching Nick told him, "keep your elbows in, you're giving your opponent the opportunity to thread his arms through and pull your arm."  Sure, Nick needs to work to make that shoulder stronger, but even more importantly is learning how to protect it so the enemy (oops...I mean opponent) can't take advantage of it...

And that's exactly what we need to do...  we need to come up with strategies to keep the enemy from getting a hold on our weaknesses and exploiting them and causing damage to our hearts and souls...  Whatever it is, there are things we can do to protect those weaknesses...

But there's something else that hit me about last night...  As Nick wrestled his opponents, especially that last one, there was a group of us cheering him on with all our might...  We were shouting for him to fight...  to pin him...  some of the dads who know wrestling were shouting for him to keep his head up...  There was encouragement...  There was counsel and advice...  But we all wanted him to win...  It's almost as if we were willing our strength into him and when he won...  WOW...  a cheer went up, we were so excited for him!  It was so much fun to watch one of his teammate's dads who was coaching him... he was SO excited!!

And that's how it should be as a family of believers...  We should be cheering each other on to victory...  sometimes it with words of encouragement... sometimes advice and wise counsel...  sometimes a gentle reproof...  but their fights should become our fights...  their defeats should feel like our defeats...  and we should celebrate their victories like they were ours...

Because I believe that that's exactly what happens in heaven...  Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

When we come alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ and cheer them on through life's battles, it's as if we are pulling back the veil and giving them and the world around them, a glimpse of heaven.  I am so appreciative of the families and coaches who are loving our son so well with their encouragement...  they are cheering him on to run his race well... on and off the mats!

Let's find someone we can cheer on every day and bring a little heaven to earth...

5 comments:

trina said...

Yahoo Nick!!!! Love hearing all about your victory.

Sharla, what a great comparison. You are so good at bringing application to everything. :)

Lori said...

Oh Sharla, your analogy is RIGHT-ON! And seriously, when you imagine the enemy's fight against us as a true wrestling match, it really opens our eyes to how desperately we need to fight hard and never EVER give up!

I love that, friend!

Oh and congratulations to Nick for putting up such a determined fight!

Girly Girl Mommy said...

I love this! Your application is really teaching me a lot.

Way to go, Nick!

Anonymous said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, Nick!!!!!!!
YA,YA,YA.
SOOOOOOOO proud of you.

Scott said...

I am constantly amazed (and I'll admit even a bit proud) at the gift God has given you. I was there and I had tears in my eyes reading this. Your words are pure and true which are most important but what makes them matter is they are real. You give them life. I don't tell yo often enough...thank you for sharing this bit of yourself...oh, and for loving me, too!