It was 1985 and I was 12. I don’t remember much of my early teens but I remember enough to say, I can stand before God and testify with sincerity and truth that my family was going through a mid-life crisis of sorts in that particular year. It is with a heavy-laden heart I admit, our family was into wrestling. And not just any wrestling but WWF…

It was nice to know you. Best of luck. Good-bye.

It was a week night and I vaguely remember sitting in front of the television because positioning was important. Not only was I a kid, I was also the remote control…some of you will relate. Our families favorite wrestler came on the screen, Hulk Hogan, and I about died. He had this hair and these muscles and I cannot be held responsible for I was young and impressionable and put faith and trust blindly in MY PARENTS. As the show continued, I sat in disbelief when the Hulk placed a real sleeper hold on prime time talk show host Richard Belzer of “Hot Properties.” I knew enough to know wrestling was dramatic and mainly for show, like a circus or how I feel at church some mornings when I am not being honest, but THIS was a real-time pass out and that moment will stick with me for life.

Someone, light a candle for me and say a prayer.

Flash forward three decades. I recently went through an intensively stressful season largely in part to work. I had  headaches, sleepless nights and before I knew it, back pain. All of my “physical symptoms” where manifestations of my inability to manage high-levels of “stress” appropriately and when I say appropriately, I mean this…I was quite capable of handling what was before me. The problem was, I chose NOT to.

Here’s the thing; stress is a byproduct of fear and in my life during that intensely stressful season was a giant and every time I stood before it, I held my breath…AFRAID. I was also angry, offended, bitter, resentful and prideful. And just a FYI…if you hold your breath long enough, YOU become your own worst enemy. You put yourself in a sleep hold much like Hulk Hogan did that night to Richard Belzer and oxygen deprivation to the brain shuts your system down fast and you fall “asleep.” You don’t even know it’s happening.

I’ve realized since that “sleeping” is one of the most dangerous threats to my identity. It is something that I do to myself. All by myself. My opponent never even needs to touch me let alone wrap their arms around my throat. I hold my breath because I lose my focus. I see the problem instead of the solution and my little ole legs quiver and I wonder how I am going to fix it. I brace myself for impact and HOLD. MY. BREATH. 

ME. MYSELF. I. 

I know that God created me fully capable to handle such seasons. I was created in His image so I believe that everything on the inside of me can handle anything on the outside of me because of the Spirit of Jesus and if He can, so can I. BAM. It’s the finished work of the cross and it is SCRIPTURAL, but it’s also a balancing act. It’s actually an unlearning of everything innate to my flesh and learned from experience. It’s trying to understand when He wants me to step up ON MY OWN because it’s time and He wants me to discover more of what’s He’s placed on the inside of me and when He wants to partner WITH me so I can discover more of what’s on the inside of Him so I can learn. It’s like a parent teaching their child to ride a bike. We can’t nor should have training wheels forever plus it would be slightly awkward as an adult having Dad still hold our bike seat so we don’t fall. Agree?

Maturing is all about learning when to hold on and when to let go.

I have a part. It’s called, guarding my heart. Sometimes I allow my thoughts and feelings about the giant in front of me overcome my faith in God that’s with me and I linger a little too long till my thoughts and feelings are driving the car. Slowly but surely, if I don’t guard my heart, I go all rogue. The Spirit of Jesus gets tied up and placed in the back of the trunk and I find myself behind the wheel ALONE, RECKLESSHAPHAZARD, and OXYGEN DEPRIVED as the original me that God thoughtfully and intentionally created is asleep driving off some cliff.

I wish I could say it’s easy to wake up and remember WHO you are. I wish I could say that you just snap your fingers and instantly awaken out of the groggy slumber that has lulled you like baby and but again…ME. MYSELF. I. rarely works. More time than not, we don’t wake till impact strikes and by then, the damage is immense. But have hope, help is on the scene. Since we were created IN relationship FOR relationship, others are often a HUGE part of our reentry into the atmosphere we are created to live from.

So if you are finding yourself before a giant…BREATHE. Stand up. Remember where your roots come from and focus.

RIDE. THAT. BIKE.

JESUS. TAKE. THE. WHEEL.

OPEN. THAT. TRUNK.

PRAY.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Grab someone’s hand. Remember that you are NOT alone. Allow the Father’s love to strengthen and sustain you. And no, it’s not as easy as it sounds…there is no step one, step two with Christ. What there is though is grace…mounds and mounds of grace so keep getting up from your mat and opening your eyes (and with it your heart) and listen for your name. HE IS CALLING. He will pursue you to YOUR GRAVE if that is what it takes…

Wake up friend, you’ve been sleeping long enough.