For the life of me, I have never been able to understand my crazy obsession with high school wrestling—until today. In high school, I’m sure it began with cute boys on the high school wrestling circuit. A whole group of us girls followed the wrestling team all over the city, the region, and even to the state finals in Richmond. I remember it well. My best friend’s mom took a bunch of us. We crowded into one hotel room and her mom was in the room next door. After the state finals, my mad crush, Mark Sawyer from Great Bridge High School, knocked on the door. As I opened the door, the girls gasped. There he stood. The champion.

Hours spent watching sweaty young high school boys grapple, pound, twist, turn, and shape themselves into all sorts of unsightly positions summed up into one word: champion. They all wanted to be the state champ and perhaps, the national champ.

After a very difficult day yesterday and an extremely restless night, I awoke this morning, reminded of my high school obsession.

The match ensues.

“Ah,” I thought. “Maybe I was supposed to be learning something and not just chasing cute boys in weird spandex little outfits.”

I know the training, sacrifice, and determination behind becoming a state champ in wrestling. I walked through it with several of my close high school buddies. At times, it can only be described as “anguish.” Derived from Latin, angustia, anguish means, “tight place.” A time of severe mental or physical excruciating or acute pain or distress.

The picture below is worth a thousands words, isn’t it? Yesterday, I felt like this boy on the mat. Hand over face. I can’t even really tell you why, but my mind was definitely in a state of “psychological soreness” (as the experts say). I couldn’t reign in the thoughts. Having recently anguished over the decision to leave our beloved church (after wrestling for years) and follow the cloud of God’s leading to a place He hasn’t yet shown us, all kinds of mental chatter ensued. On top of it all, woodpeckers decided to use our front door and kitchen window as pecking ground, so all day long I hear this insistent pounding. Really? Woodpeckers? Is this some type of message? Shall I go on? (smile)


I went to my Bible Study and left feeling I had just “dumped” or actually “vomited” on my dear friends as if I had the spiritual flu.

“I should have stayed home,” I told them. “I knew I was gonna blow.”

Thankfully, they love me for me, and thankfully, Julie knew just how to lighten it all up.

“If you’re not gonna bring your drama, then don’t come,” she laughed. (She has no idea how hard I work on NOT being dramatic!)

Oh, thank God for girlfriends when I know now I am in my very own “wrestling season.” Bingo! That is it. In the middle of my anguish, after wrestling all night, God spoke this morning and showed me, “Janell, it’s wrestling season. You are in training. Press on. I have some new moves to show you.”

Knowing this, I can persevere. I will see my opponent pinned.

Hand on neck. PIN!

The most important training tool of all is to keep Ephesians 6:12 in front of my eyes:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,  against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
-Ephesians 6:12 (New International Version)


“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong.
So take everything the Master has set out for you,
well-made weapons of the best materials.
And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything
the Devil throws your way.
This is no afternoon athletic contest
that we’ll walk away from and
forget about in a couple of hours.
This is for keeps, a life-or-death
fight to the finish
against the Devil and all his angels.”
-Ephesians 6:12 (The Message)

Oh, how critically true! We walked away from those afternoon/evening wrestling tournaments, but the wrestling match against the devil and his forces—there’s no walking away from that one. At least, not for me. It is a life-or-death-fight-to-the-finish, because I want victory in my life and in the lives of those in my life.


Are you in a wrestling season? Take heart, please, and keep pressing through. Let me share this new worship song by Leeland, “The Great Awakening” in hopes that it will stir your weary soul just like it stirred mine this morning. I’m praying “awakening” today!


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