Hello friends, this is Angie, and this is one of my transformation stories.
In high school, sports were my passion, and my goal was always to be the best. I worked hard in earning 11 Varsity letters and was offered college scholarships for volleyball and basketball, and I played college basketball. By age 18, I had a bookcase full of shiny trophies, gold medallions, and many blue ribbons.
This passion for sports naturally spilled over into my love of PE class! The class most people hated was the class I adored! You know the drill: Our teacher would pick two captains who would choose teams for a game. In my case, it didn’t matter who that Captain was—a popular or unpopular kid, one who was rich or poor, smart or special needs—I was usually the first girl chosen and it felt really good.
Back then, I never considered for a second that just as I was always chosen first, there were a set of boys and girls that were always chosen last. While I was reveling in my “glory” of being picked number one, they likely were anguishing in the pain of always being picked last. It happened every single time—I was first, they were last.
In those days, I had no mercy for the weak, for those who were not “the best” in my eyes. I was never mean to those I considered weak—I didn’t call them names or bully them—but I had a swagger that was just as powerful and painful as saying mean words to their faces. Subtle. Deceptive. Cruel. Prideful. I knew who I was, and I knew who they were. Or so I thought.
Reality check: I wasn’t even close. The truth is that God never saw them as weak or “less than.” He saw them just as He saw me…equally loved, cherished and wanted in His precious eyes.
As my faith grew in my 20’s, God got out His sledgehammer and sword, and He struck down my pedestal—the need to be strong, to be number one, to be the best, to be better than...He covered my eyes with His own. As He transformed my heart, I saw others as He did. And He showed me scripture after scripture after scripture where the weak, meek, and humble are elevated and cherished as first in God’s Kingdom—not the proud, arrogant, strong or boastful. This revelation transformed me and also made me pause with sadness as I wondered:
Did those classmates go home at night and cry to their mom or dad, or sit in the dark in their bedroom and dream of revenge? Did they quit trying because they started believing they would never measure up? My heart hurts in wondering if scars still remain? Are lies embedded deep in some of them after all these years? Did they cringe when their son or daughter came home wanting to play soccer or T-ball? Or do they push their children to succeed, so they would never know the shame that comes with feeling like a so called loser…Not because you are, but because someone else thinks you are.
Romans 9:25 (in the Message Paraphrase) reads:
“I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I'll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!" they're calling you "God's living children."
Praise God that He is in the business of transformation. There is such a thing as maturing into a weak, meek, and humble servant. I know because it’s the ongoing renovation He continues to do in my heart. I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to succeed and do well. I am saying that such pursuits can become a swagger monster that tries to get fed in subtle, deceptive, cruel, and prideful ways, where I cunningly elevate myself above others or in place of Him.
God doesn’t call us in spite of our weakness, but because of it. I used to be impressed with the powerful, the strong, the competent, the most successful. But as my faith has matured, I feel honored to meet those whom the world might deem as weak, broken people. I’m always so impressed by God’s grace at work in their lives. Those who feel imperfect, weak or broken—they’re the true masterpiece, showing off God’s amazing grace and glory.
As the Lord often reminds me, this is never more evident in The Be-Attitudes, Matthew 5, verses 1-12.
Jesus did NOT say: Blessed are the strong, the competent, those who finish first, those who are the most successful. Nope.
Jesus DID say: Blessed are the gentle, the persecuted, the poor in Spirit, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…In other words, those who look like Him.
As with many things in the Kingdom, this is a foreign concept to the world. But it’s no longer a foreign concept to this former athlete. It’s a paradox: I’m now mainly on my knees seeking to please Him and not climbing the world’s pedestal seeking man’s applause.
Blessed Are…. Amen.