A few years ago my family visited The Coliseum in Rome. I honestly hadn’t done my research and went with a blasé tourist mindset of getting to see this amazing structure and experience its rich history. What I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming sense of despair and depravity I felt as I listened to the tour guide’s voice in my ear buds explain that the victor and the challenger (often a slave or purposefully weaker creature) would fight to the death. The choreographers would start out with small animals in order to ease and tease the crowd into it and work their way up to humans. This was all done for the sheer pleasure of those in the stands salivating to see blood and gore as someone or something died.
I’ve been in a few fights in my lifetime. With my sisters, with friends, with my husband, with peers but as is proof through the writing of this post, I’m still alive. Some of my fights may have been childish hair pulling and others were a fight to survive. The point is that we all fight differently and for different reasons – but we all fight. We can fight to end the conflict and prove ourselves to be the victor or we can fight to resolve an issue to enhance our lives and relationships.
Whether it’s a physical or emotional fight, whether it’s a fight with another person or an inward struggle, fighting is exhausting. It can suck the very life out of us if we let it. When you’re in the trenches of battle – battered, wounded, bloody, exhausted – here are a few actions to help sustain you.
REST UP: Rest your weary bones. Breathe rest in deeply even when it feels like you’re breathing underwater. Every fighter needs rest.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
FILL UP: Fill your body, mind and your soul with good food, hopeful music, and life-giving words. Every fighter needs to be properly fueled.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7 (NIV)
GEAR UP: Put on your armor. Buckle in tight. Watch out for the crack in your armor where weakness remains. Every fighter needs the right gear.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)
CALL UP: Call up a friend or two who can help you hold your arms up in the battle. Every fighter needs a friend in the stands.
“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” Exodus 17:12 (NIV)
THINK UP: Think through your choices that will help you fight well. Don’t let your emotions overtake your brain. It’s so easy to allow our pain to heap mistake on top of mistake. Resist the urge. Do all you can to come out on the other side with no regrets. You will be glad you did. Every fighter needs to think up.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)
GET UP: Resolve to keep living until you feel alive again. Get out of bed. Take a shower and get ready for the day. Keep stumbling forward. Don’t pay attention to those who the “referee” when you hear him counting you down. Get up and stay in the fight. Every fighter needs to live.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)
Don’t GIVE UP: If you’re fighting the good fight, then whatever you’re fighting for is worth fighting through. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
Notice I didn’t include “make up”. I know full well that all fights don’t end up with a win or and “I’m sorry” or even a hug at the end. There are the choices of others at play and factors of living in a broken world that we cannot control. This is the hard truth of life. But if you find yourself in a fight today, I hope you are encouraged to keep fighting even when you’re exhausted. There may be blood and it may seem that the crowds are cheering for your death but God is cheering for your life. Know that you are not fighting for victory but rather you are fighting from victory. We already know how the story ends and it ends with ultimate redemption made possible by Jesus on the Cross.
Keep trying. Keep fighting. Don’t allow yourself to think that dying in the fight is an option – even if you’re exhausted.
“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” Dr. George Sheehan