You would never know it by looking at me. I’m small, just 5’2″ and 105 lbs. I’m usually pretty quiet unless I’m around people I know well.
But I was “popular” once.
It happened when I was 15 years old. I had no friends. I hid inside. I wrote and read while my brothers were out making friends and socializing. My life was cheerless except for church on Sundays. I constantly felt depressed and lonely, though I tried really really hard not to be.
I wanted someone to hang out with SO BAD. I cursed the city I lived in. At least living in the country I would have had the companion of nature. Here, it was not so. Surrounded by houses and streets and cars, I felt much more isolated than if I had been in the midst of the hills and trees and flowers. Here, there were people, but I had no companion, there was a population, but no one I could enjoy time with.
Then, Jiu Jitsu happened.
That is why I said you wouldn’t know it to look at me. Because I am not exactly the person you would expect to do Jiu Jitsu. But, I LOVED it.
I loved the sport itself first of all. I loved walking into the gym on Tuesday and putting on my gi. I loved learning to do arm bars and chokes, how to defend against them. I loved leaving each class feeling more confident in my ability to protect myself.
But then secondly, there were the people. My instructor was really nice, and when he saw how much I enjoyed Jiu Jitsu, he started spending more time on me and teaching me higher level techniques. Though everyone in the class was younger than me, and there was only one other girl, since I soon became the best of the class, everyone was my friend.
When I had been there about three months, a guy named Jaden started coming. He was 13, 10 lbs heavier than me, and had done wrestling for years. The first day he came, we fought and neither of us could win. But the next time, I tapped him out, and from then on we became pretty good friends. I won 90% of our fights and he was pretty much scared of me, which gave me much secret satisfaction.
I began enjoying Tuesdays over every other day of the week, and when I wasn’t training, I was thinking about it. Not an hour went by where I didn’t think about Jiu Jitsu. I was it, and it was me.
So a couple more months go by. I am very good friends with the people in my classes. I am attending adult classes, getting better and better. My instructor brags about me to people. Individuals whom I’ve never seen know who I am. One day I walk into the gym and a lady tells her son, “here she is! Here is the girl who’s gonna beat you up.” I am known as “the Jiu Jitsu girl”. My brothers come home from wrestling and say some of their friends know me.
And I’m not gonna lie, it felt good sometimes. To finally be out of the shadows. To finally have friends and a social life, no matter how odd my group might be.
But my conscience was bugging me because of the obsession I had with Jiu Jitsu. It wasn’t that I had dropped my relationship with God, in fact, I was growing a lot in my walk with the LORD. But I preferred my time at the gym to my time with God. I preferred Tuesdays to Sundays, and at moments I even liked my Jiu Jitsu friends over my Christian friends.
But, QUIT JIU JITSU?!?! No way. I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. I could not bring myself to drop the class, even though I knew the whole thing was becoming a mess inside me.
So, my friends, I prayed. I told it to God just like it was. I said, “I don’t have the heart to quit on my own. It’s the only social life I have. Please help me get out using circumstances that I can’t control, because if I can control it, then I just know I’ll stay.”
Two months later, I was out. Changing schedules had put classes on Friday afternoons, when I wasn’t available, and there was nothing I could do about it. Talk about an exact answer to prayer!
Don’t tell me that God doesn’t help us with our battles. Don’t tell me that when we admit we can’t win on our own, He doesn’t step in and save us. Because I would never believe it. He helped me. He got me out of a place that was causing me to stumble.
I look back, and I remember that time with a smile. I grin because this weirdo, this socially awkward introvert had her moment of popularity; and I grin because I genuinely love (& miss!!) the friends I made there. But mostly I smile because I learned that God is forever my best friend, gives me my true worth, and is my undying obsession.
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