Unleash Your Inner Warrior
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming...”
My dear warrior,
There are times in our lives when it feels like no one is rooting for us to win, and everyone is looking for us to fail. It seems like no one is for you and everyone is against you. Sometimes you wonder if anyone out there has thought about cheering you on, or if anyone is on your side. You feel alone, completely abandoned, like there is not one sympathetic soul out there rooting for you. I have learned that oftentimes, while those who are against us are the loudest, there are silent spectators watching us, waiting for us to step into our identity. These are the ones who are for us, who are quietly rooting for us, praying for us, and cheering for us. They are sitting by, waiting to see what we will do, staying out of our way because they want to see us succeed. They are watching from the sidelines because they know the decisions we have to make must be our own. They know the victory has to be ours.
In this last year I have often felt like this was my reality, more so than ever before: those who were against me were deafeningly loud and the rest of the stands were filled with silent spectators who stared at me with their hands folded in their laps. What I didn't know is that those who sat quietly on the sidelines were for me. The silent spectators were rooting for me without me ever knowing about it. I had an entire army of people praying for me, supporting me, and quietly watching to see how I would handle some of the hardest moments of my life, and unobtrusively waiting to see my victory. It was not until recently that a few people came out of the woodwork and told me that they have been watching me grow as a warrior, a woman after God’s own heart, and watching my relentless pursuit of righteousness in the face of intense difficulty. They told me how impressed they have been with the way I have responded to these incredible challenges, and how I have grown exponentially through all of my heartache.
I was stunned. All that time, I had felt like the most phenomenal failure to walk the earth. My strongest desire was to be a Proverbs 31 woman, to be a strong warrior, a woman after God's own heart, and to love and care for those around me. It seemed like the more I pursued God, the more I failed. The more I did what He told me, the more I was hated, and the more I learned about what it meant to live for Christ, the more disastrous my life became. It got to a point where it seemed like all I ever did was mess up, make stupid mistakes and have every little thing held over my head. Even when I did nothing, I found myself being reviled. I felt like I had failed God, the people I loved, and I had failed myself. I wanted the earth to swallow me up and never spit me out. But with each time I got back up, took a deep breath, and with a new resolve, I decided to keep pressing in after God's heart. I did my best to become the woman He was calling me to be, walk in His will, and do what He called me to do. I put my head down and moved forward with steely determination. In all of those times, it seemed like my pursuit after Gods own heart had brought me nothing but agony. It seemed like my decision to go hard after Him, to pursue Him, to pursue His Kingdom reality had not been to my advantage. But it didn't matter. I wanted to be a woman after God’s own heart, even if it was never of any benefit to me.
And yet here were these people, telling me (while I was facedown and bloody) how inspired they were by my tenacity. They spoke life into me in ways that made my heart ache for joy in my brokenness. I have been stunned over and over again, and I am constantly moved to tears when I hear people tell me that they have been impressed by my strength of character, by my dauntless pursuits, and by the fight in my spirit. I am always stunned, and humbled when they tell me that they could never have done what I did, or endured what I have endured these past few years. They have told me they would have given up if they had been faced with the trials I have gone through and still am going through. They've told me they are always shocked to see me get back up and keep fighting, that I refuse to give up when anyone else would be down for the count. I was stunned to realize that anybody had been watching, and that I had an audience waiting with bated breath to see what I would do next.
Let me tell you a story: it is something I've observed these last two years in someone whom I love dearly. This man found himself in the middle of the arena, like a gladiator in a coliseum, and was faced with so many difficulties in making his dream a reality. Years of doubt and negativity had been spoken over him, to the point where he did not even believe in himself and could not see his own worth. But he pressed on forward. I watched him wrangle with discovering who God has called him to be, and the fact that people have spoken death to his dreams for so long. I rooted for him to have the strength to make that dream a reality. I supported his dream and pushed him forward, extinguishing the fiery darts coming against him where I could; I spoke life into him, knowing who he is and recognizing the great calling on his life. I spoke to his heart, reminding him of who he is and reveling in the purpose God has put on his life. But the odds seemed stacked against him; family and friends mocked him, and I was his only vocal support throughout so much of it. I found my voice being drowned out by the jeering, mocking and shouting. Naysayers who didn't care about him at all spoke against his calling and against the most precious things in his life, and they got louder and louder until the din became a constant ringing in his ears. The lies they yelled became the only sound he could hear in his mind anymore. I stood in the middle of that arena with him and looked for people in the stands who would cheer him on. But the only spectators I saw among those who shouted jeers at him, sat and watched quietly with their hands folded in their lap. My heart sank. He was going down. Was there no one who would speak life? No one else who would give him courage by their support?
Once I left the arena, I sat down in the stands feeling broken as I watched from a distance. I had been forced out of the arena; but I understood it was the right thing. This had to be his fight and his victory. I could not fight it for him. And yet my heart was breaking. I felt alone, and I knew he felt abandoned. Then, the spectators who sat silently with their hands folded in their laps leaned in to whisper to me, "We support him. We're on his team, but we're watching and waiting." I looked up in surprise. We had mistaken their silence for judgment. "What are you waiting for?" I asked. And they told me they were waiting for him to make the right decision. They were watching to see when he would realize who he was. They were waiting till he would wake up to the reality of his calling and step into his purpose. They were waiting to see when he would take up his armor and his weapons; waiting to see him stand up and fight. They were waiting for him to rise up a warrior.
"He doesn't listen," they said. "But this... This is not something we can help him with. We helped him up till this point. Now it is up to him to do it on his own. It is up to him to take everything he has learned, separate the good from the bad, put the right things into practice, and throw out the bad. Don't you worry. He’s got this. Just watch and wait.” I wanted to protest, and have them say something, encourage him, tell him what to do, but they knew my thoughts and shook their heads. “It is not our place to give him counsel now. He wouldn't listen to us anyway. He is too stubborn and the enemy is too loud. Right now, in the midst of the confusion, he thinks the enemy is on his side; he is convinced they are speaking truth. But he will figure it out once he stops listening to the wisdom of the world - loud as it may be…" As the spectators spoke, I looked out into the arena, and folded my hands and began to watch and wait with them. "We are waiting for that moment that he shuts out the sound of the crowd and follows Wisdom, herself," they said, "We are waiting for the moment he does what he knows is right without seeking advice from the crowds, the opinions of the world and counsel from those whose hearts he confessedly knows are not pure."
What that man (still) doesn’t know is that no matter how many times he fails in the arena, no matter how often he chooses wrong, and no matter how stubborn he is, these silent spectators are still quietly watching from the stands, patiently waiting for him to get it right, waiting for the chance to smile and say to him, “We knew you could do it all along.” These are the people who see his potential, and know it is more than just potential. These are the people who know who he is, who God called him to be, what He looks like in the end—before he has even begun to look like the man God says he is. These are the people who have a confident expectation that he will be victorious. They are simply waiting for a day they are already assured of to arrive. I am among those people. I am one of the silent spectators, waiting for him to get it right. I am one of those people who knows who he is and is assured of his victory, and am watching to see what he will do, rooting for him to make the right decisions. I am quietly rooting for him to rise strong. In my heart and in my prayers, I am rooting for him to rise up a warrior.
You are like that man. Your victory is sure, and you have people waiting for you to have the victory they already know is yours. For them—for all of us silent spectators—it is an honor to see you in the arena, to see you fight, and it is our joy to see you have that victory completely on your own. No one can fight your battles for you. The battle in the arena must be completely yours, so that the victory can be entirely yours. When the victory is yours, then you will find out who you are. It is in arena that you will rise up a warrior.
We often mistake the silence of those watching us without saying a single word as quiet judgment. What we don't realize is that there are those who have gone before us who have made the same mistakes, and they know how difficult it is. They are looking for us to succeed. They are looking for us to do what they could not. They are looking for us to learn the same lessons they did, in the same way they did: on our own. We mistake those silent spectators as being stony-faced and judgmental because we cannot see their hearts for us. We cannot see the tenderness behind the unreadable expressions on their faces. We are so caught up in feeling judged that we take that on as one more burden to weigh us down in the arena. Something else we may not realize is that those who are judging us from the crowd don't matter. They are not in the arena. They are not for us. They don't matter. Put off your fear of everyone's judgment and simply fight the good fight.
Just like myself, just like that man, and anyone else who has ever had silent spectators rooting for them, you may never find out who those people are. They may never tell you that they were rooting for you or that they were on your team. Just in the same way they kept silent while you were in the arena, they may keep silent once you have had your victory in that arena. Even if they never tell you, I will tell you for them: when they see you victorious, their hearts swell with the pride of a father, the love of a mother and sigh with the relief of a lover or friend. When you are victorious in the arena, they are proud of you in ways they could never express. So they simply keep it to themselves. Sometimes it is wisdom so that it doesn't go to your head; sometimes it is a lack of words or the inability to express what they feel; and sometimes it is their own secret, and they choose not to share that they saw you be beaten, bloodied and broken in the arena.
[As a sidenote: particularly dangerous are the naysayers who pose as friends and simply take advantage of your insecurities in order to use you for their own benefit (and to your own detriment). These are the ones who whisper in your ear what you should to do while you are in the arena, speak doubt into your heart and (by outward appearances) may look to you like your loudest supporter. These are the ones that have been speaking lies to you so long that you have become convinced the lies are truth. If only your eyes were open to the arena you are in, you would see they have no love for you and that they are the ones calling for the lions to be let in to consume you. It is bloodlust. They are only in it for the sake of blood sport. They are looking to see you fall. Realize that they are the one ones who will manipulate you to get what they want – and may even have the audacity to tell you they are doing just that! There is nothing cute or funny about this. It is dangerous, and it is ugly. They are purposefully doing damage to you, taking advantage of you, and watching you crash and burn for their own enjoyment. Run far away from these people. More on this in an upcoming blog in this week’s Rise Up A Warrior Series: Flattery is the counterfeit of honor.]
Beloved, just like the man in the arena, and just like my own experience, if you feel like no one is rooting for you and that you are alone in the arena of your circumstances, take heart. There are silent spectators who are rooting for you, even if they never tell you. But more important than these silent spectators is another who is watching; one you may feel is just as silent. Of all the people watching: the critics, the watchers, the silent spectators, those jeering and those cheering, your family, your friends - I have found that none of those is nearly as important as the Lord our God. We must learn not to live for all the voices that tell us what to do (many of them live for the enjoyment of seeing others crash and burn). We must not live to please the critics; we ought not live for the applause; we should not live for approval of others. We live for an audience of One, therefore we must live only to please Him.
We live to serve a great and glorious God; a God who knows what we need better than we do. (Think of it, He designed you and knows exactly what you want and need and what is good for you. He is closer than your breath, closer than your own thoughts and knows you better than you could ever know yourself, even if you lived a thousand lifetimes. And guess what? He is a good Father who loves His children). He will not cause us to stumble. He will not taunt or jeer us, or convince us of wrong decisions. He is not in this for blood-sport. He will allow tests and trials in your life because He knows they are necessary to hone your character. He wants to see you succeed. He wants to see you make the right decisions. He wants to be pleased with you and be able to tell you at the end of your life, "Well done, good and faithful servant." He loves you more than you could ever comprehend, and He does not want to see you fail. He is so merciful that He is not offended when you do fail; He simply gives you as many chances as you need until you pass. He also is not surprised by your failure! You could never surprise God by falling short or failing. He knows everything. He knew you were going to stumble before you did; He knew you would mess up. His grace is superabundant. He is bigger than your mistakes, and He is our Redeemer. He can redeem anything! The question is: will you trust Him to do so? Will you partner with Him? And finally, will you choose to live before an audience of One?
Stand strong, beloved, and rise to the occasion. Rise up a warrior in your arena. Prove all the naysayers wrong by getting back up, and prove all your silent spectators right by not giving up, and by fighting the good fight. But more important than that, get up and show God that you want to live before an audience of One, that you choose to live, fight and die for Him. Show Him your simple devotion in that you choose to tune your ear to His still small voice over the noise of the audience, the chatter of those telling you how to live, and the volume of the so-called wisdom of the world.
Live in the battleground,
©Michèle Aimée, 2016
About the Author
Michèle is a warrior with a passion for God, a deep love of writing, and a fire for combat training. As a warrior, she understands that when she is given orders, she must follow through.