I’m going to take a small commercial break in my series of late to tell you a story.
It was 1982.
My junior year of high school, and I had made the cheerleading squad. We were a small, tight knit Christian school, and the friendships that were formed have lasted my lifetime. I wore a pleated skirt that touched my knees, saddle shoes and a constricting, long sleeve wool sweater. Looking back I cannot believe that was the uniform of choice. I probably lost 10 pounds every game just from sweating so much. I didn’t care. I loved every second. That year I was determined to make 1st Team All Conference for my squad, and I worked hard toward that goal. When the time came for names to be announced and awards given, my name was not on the list. I can honestly say that I was truly happy for my friends. They were seasoned cheerleaders, and I knew they deserved the acclamation.
My senior year I was fueled to try even harder. I did everything my coach told me to do. Every game, every routine. No mess ups. 1983. This would be my year. I was confident in the work that I put in. When the names were called, I waited anxiously to hear my own, but I didn’t even get an honorable mention~
and I was crushed.
Somehow, almost 40 years later I still feel like that cheerleader at times. Trying so hard to do it all right. Listening to what I’ve been taught my entire Christian adult life. Putting the hard work in, confident that I’ve got this servanthood thing in the bag.
Until I don’t.
And sometimes I allow it to crush me.
I compare myself to others.
(2 Corinthians 10:12-16)
I press toward my own prize.
I become weary. (Galatians 6:9)
I envy and grumble. (Hebrews 13:5)
And then grumble some more. (Philippians 2:14-15)
As I have studied the topic of surrender to God and our love for Him, many things have come to my attention.
Why do we continually mess up? In our Christian walk, in our relationships, in our attitudes?
Well, there’s the obvious… sin, duh.
But, as I prayed about this more, I came to the realization that a lot of it has to do with the specific sin of ‘my love for myself.’
I can say that I’m doing the things I’m doing (ie~ you know being a good servant and all that 😉) because of my love for the Lord, but when I am serving and someone rattles me with an off hand comment or speaks praise over others and not me~ I find myself right back in those saddle shoes. I throw myself my own pity party. I either feel like I will never be good enough, asking myself why I wasn’t picked, or I start to lift myself up with the~ ‘I’ve worked so hard!’~ mentality. This is a place I wouldn’t be if I was truly being a servant of Christ and doing everything out of my love for Him.
Somehow Charisse always gets in her own way.
The times I hear myself saying “Nobody loves me. Nobody notices. Nobody cares. I’ll never measure up. Why can’t I be like her?” Are the very times I’m loving myself more than Christ. I am making it about me and not about Him. I am putting on MY uniform and then sweating in my own strength trying to achieve something for myself~
and not for Christ. (Romans 13:14)
It’s His armor that should take precedence. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
And so, (this might be stretching things a bit~ no pun intended 😉) I believe that even cheerleading can teach us some lessons.
On our squad, I always ended up being a part of our “base” when we did mounts. I’m 5’9” so obviously I wasn’t going to be at the top of a mount~ and I understood that 100%. That was my spot.
If only I could apply that understanding to my life now!
In cheerleading, it was never supposed to be about the girl at the top, or who got the most recognition. It was about our love for our team. Cheering them on and encouraging them to keep fighting for the win~
Isn’t that what our Christian life is all about?
It’s not about us. It’s all about Christ. Our love for our great God. Some girls might be center stage in their service and others might be serving in ways no one ever sees.
Both spots are equally important.
Our love for Jesus is what will shine.
And if we tumble. If we can’t hold the weight. If we become constricted because of our love for ourselves. If it feels too heavy or we get weary in the well doing, let us not forget that He is the one holding us all together. It’s not anything that we do, it’s His strength working in and through us.
Take off that constricting uniform of self service in the name of Christianity, and
Put on Jesus. (Romans 13:14)
Plain and simple.
We are on the same team! So, cheer your fellow sisters on as they fight the good fight. (1Timothy 6:12) Make no mistake~ it is a battle and Satan knows exactly how to get us to love ourselves more than each other and more than our Savior. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Next week, I hope to end my series with some encouragement on how we can go about loving God more and finding the laughter in our lives. I felt the need to address the fact that we cannot take steps forward toward truly loving God until we realize the battle we are in with loving ourselves.
When I look back at my cheerleading days, I’m so glad I was a part of it. Winning All Conference doesn’t even matter to me now, but the relationships that were forged and the spirit of unity we had is a memory I will cherish forever. I feel the same way about all my sisters in Christ. My sweet friends who have worshipped and walked along side me, fighting the good fight for the love of our Savior. The ones who have been a part of my life from day one, some not even realizing the impact they have had on my life. I’m over here cheering you all on and the good news is~ we already know Who wins!
Ephesians 4:1-4, 7, 12-13, 15-16, 24