One of my boyhood dreams was to become a boxer. But I didn’t want to be just any boxer. I wanted to become the heavyweight boxing champion. In my early teens I purchased an army duffle bag, filled it with saw dust, hung it on a tree, and punched it full of holes. I’d run, do pull ups, shadowbox, and chop wood to strengthen myself. And all the while I’d imagine myself climbing up through the ranks.
And to this day I am still hooked on watching boxing. I’ve spent hours on YouTube watching all the fights I had missed while overseas, in college, or simply without live TV. And as each fight rages on, my fists clench and my body writhes – as if I’m one of the combatants. I still cannot help but admire anyone who fights his way through a legion of opponents and climbs to the top.
Now anyone who knows or has ever seen me is probably laughing out loud. Never has there been a person more ill-suited to be a boxer as I, much less a heavyweight champion. The tallest I’ve ever stood is five-feet, six and a half inches (and I’ve shrunk since then). I have short stubby arms and slow reflexes. And although I’ve always worked out and exercised, my agility is very poor. And in the few times I actually put on the gloves, I didn’t fare that well.
Obviously becoming the heavyweight boxing champion was one dream I had to give up. I simply don’t have the attributes for fighting.
And unrealistic dreams can produce unfortunate outcomes. One of such outcome was that I learned to be contemptuous of myself. This is because my ideal of a fine physical specimen of a man was that of a boxer. The ideal man is tall and broad-shouldered, has a jaw of granite, long muscular arms, lightning speed, and punching power. And despite all my efforts, I had none of those things.
In reality, God had called me for a different purpose – to be a pastor, to encourage people and bring healing to their hearts through the Bible. For that purpose God’s equipped me well. Of course, I’m no “champion” at it. But I perform far better doing what God called me to do than I’d ever perform as a boxer. I’ll never be famous. But I’ve got God’s attention and I’ll try to be faithful to Him.
But can you see the danger of encouraging people to aspire to hopelessly unrealistic dreams? Can you see the pitfall of pursuing goals to which God has not called us or equipped us? We are doomed to mediocrity and painful failure. Isn’t it better to learn to accept and love our own distinctiveness? Isn’t it wiser to discover where our true greatness lies and to develop it and use it to serve God and humanity?
There is something inherently evil with a philosophy which leads people to hate what they are and to aspire to what they are not.
It condemns them to mediocrity and self-abhorrence. Yet that is the philosophy of our world. We are encouraged to loathe and discard the attributes we’re born with and to replace them with attributes we don’t have.
This is manifested in a very radical way by people who have their teeth capped with fangs or have horns and spikes implanted under their skin. I heard through the news about one man who cut off his own ears so he could look more like a parrot. Natural beauty is discarded and replaced with self-mutilation – all in a quest to look mean and threatening, all in pursuit to be anything but ourselves.
How much more pain will we suffer before we finally reconcile ourselves with who and what we are – the child of God He made us? When will we grasp that God made us as we are and He delights in our distinctiveness?
God himself chose our gender, body type, color, personality, and attributes to equip us to perform a service of His choosing. How can we be happy as anyone else or doing anything else? Would we treat an animal that way? Would we expect an animal to be happy if we surgically altered its body or forced it behave as something else? Of course not.
Neither can we ever know true happiness until we find our true identity and purpose in the God who loves us and designed us.
Know this for sure – when we stand before God at the end of the age, His question will not be, “Why weren’t you more like someone else?” It will be, “Why weren’t you true to the person I created you to be and true to the work I called you to do?”
“O Lord, You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand” (Psalm 139:13-18).
Dear Father in heaven, into Your loving embrace I flee. You are my Creator and the lover of my soul. In You alone do I seek acceptance, approval, and love. In You alone do I find my true identity and purpose. Please make me into the person Your created me to be. Amen.
Article image: Current All-Army light weatherweight boxing champ, then-Spc. Anthony Nunez, right, delivers a right hook to Spc. Adrian McKinney during the 2013 All-Army Boxing Championships at the Barnes Field House at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., March 9, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert England