Beautiful Mess

On May 9th, 2021, I preached a sermon titled, “Practice how you play.” I began with a story from the glory days of high school football and declared several times that I loved to manhandle those who played against me. Fast forward a few days, and someone told me that people could get the impression that I had some anger issues.

They made an astute observation.

For clarification, this was 30 years ago, and I have grown much since, but I was angry. This anger was essentially stuffed. I was not a kid who would get in tons of trouble because I acted out, though I would throw the occasional tantrum. For me, football was an outlet, so was the weight room. In many ways, these were outlets for the powerlessness I felt daily. I was not an active Christ-follower at the time and had no clue what it was to live in the freedom of Christ, and the phrase, “God’s got all the things,” was decades away.

I was born to a single mom who loved me but struggled to care for me in my early years. For the first three years of my life, we did not have a consistent roof over our heads, and mom struggled to feed us. Even after mom married, we struggled to get by. It was the late 70’s, and I remember long gas lines, hyperinflation, etc. At this time, my relationship with my new dad was not the best; to say I was insecure would be an understatement.

As I moved into my school years, I was placed into a remedial reading program, told that I would never be at grade level; I was separated from my classmates, insecurities grew.
By the time I entered High School, I had been ridiculed, mocked, and tormented because of my weight and general appearance. By this time, I had one year of football under my belt and loved it, but now I had access to a weight room, which became a second home. It was not uncommon for me to spend 3 hours a day lifting and becoming stronger. Not only did this assist on the field, but I was no longer a target off it. But all of this relied on me. Add to this that my efforts did not move those whose opinions I cared about most; I was left feeling empty and alone.
Enter in the Lord Jesus, who, as I was finishing High School, stepped into my life in more of a tangible way. He had been there, but I had been running and attempting to accomplish this life on my own. I had been trying to find significance in my effort; He began to show me that my meaning was found only in Him and what He had accomplished.

Jesus saved me immediately. But He continues to conform me daily into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit. I still struggle with many of the issues from my past. I can still become angry, though this has been greatly tempered. I still struggle with feelings of insignificance, but I am daily finding my significance more in Him who loves me and gave His life for me. And in all of this, I am grateful that He is not done with me yet.