Thoughts on Sports Anxiety

A few years ago I started competing in Brazilian Jiujitsu, even in spite of the challenges with having cerebral palsy. All of my competition has been abled-bodied, okay, not all I have competed against other adaptive grapplers. And I’m not sure which one fits me better.

Regardless,   the point of this entry, is to explain a revelation that has dawned on me. I have competition anxiety. Many, many athletes struggle in this way regardless of what sport they play. They might do well in practice, but they choke under the pressure of competition, they freeze and forget the training that has led to this moment.

Yep, that’s me.

I want to go out on the mats and win, I don’t know anyone that enjoys losing. But the reality is that I have far more losses than I do victories. And that often weighs me down, because when I see so many team mates winning and bringing home medals and then there’s me, the guy that keeps on loosing. Who’s to blame for that? Nobody else but me.

Though I do know another adaptive grappler that has lost  damn near ninety times, and only won one match. That we cripple most (yes, I used the C word) but for this guy, he just kept going out there and competing, loss after loss. Until finally, he scored a W for the win column. This has been my deepest motivation, this is allowing me to have further courage to face my fears.

Fear of defeat yet again, fear of not making my instructors and team mates down… Fear… Fear… Fear. But like I said, that’s why I keep facing this thing. That’s why I let my chest tighten and heart thumb like a dub step song. I know my mind won’t stop racing anytime soon, so why stop competing? God only knows what could happen any given moment. It’s my way of telling the fear and anxiety to @@@@ off, it doesn’t own my life.

Most people wouldn’t have the courage to go out there and loose over and over. I do, for the simple reason that my losses have taught me far more. Don’t get me wrong though, that taste of victory is so amazingly sweet.  But soon, everyone is brought back to the reality of being humbled to their knees. And for me, many lessons have come from there and I’m okay.

Embrace the paralyzing anxiety. Embrace the fear and looping thoughts in your head, they’ll always be there (though probably not as bad) compete anyway, fight anyway. You’ll be better because of it.

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Remember Hope is Greater Than Evil

Over the past month, maybe more, I’ve been working a night job at a non profit called Project Harmony. This particular non profit deals with helping guide children who have been abused (either by violence or sexual abuse). Project Harmony also aids in helping parents heal through the process as well. It’s a great place to work, our building has everything under one roof: Police, nurses, a nice unit to stay in should a child or family need a place to stay temporarily

To get the job I worked with another non profit called Vocational Rehab, they helped prepare for the job interview process and so on. It’s honestly amazing how God works for our good. Project Harmony is right across the street from Vocational Rehab. On a morning that I was scheduled for an appointment there, my Dad and I had gotten lost. As a result we pulled into the parking lot of Project Harmony and without thinking I said to my Dad “wouldn’t it be cool if I got a job here?”

Well, looked what happened? A few weeks later, after a few weeks later and a background check (and a job interview-can’t forget that!) I got the job! My job mainly consists of working after hours, buzzing in clients, making sure kids have snacks, water and are enjoying themselves before they go and meet with either the police or therapist. Simple right? It may look simple, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t leave work with a deep anger at the evil and injustice that these kids have had to endure. Emails that come in on different people just turn my stomach inside out.

And I honestly don’t see the full brunt of what the therapists and police have to deal with on a daily basis. To which I have a profound respect for every individual that has to see the much darker side of our work. Alas, in the midsts of see such darkness on the days that I do work. I LOVE my job. My prayer is that God works through me in the small things, brightening the child’s day, smiling at a parent and offering a small bit of encouragement where I can.  Trying to help the police and therapists where I can.

There has only been a struggle inside me, as it relates to the evil that is seen in any capacity where I work. And rightly so, if I wasn’t angry at this evil I would naturally wonder if there was something wrong or off in my soul. At least I hope. As I spend personal time in quiet reflection, I yet again come to the understand that hope and love are bigger than evil. And while evil to an extent calls for a bit of holy anger, it is vastly more important to remember hope.

Remember hope, dwell in hope, live in hope and be hope. Do not become blind or naive to the forces of evil in this world, for doing so creates a unhealthy delusion of granger. But as we have learned in mindfulness therapy, let us learn to be present to the hope that we have and give it as a candle gives light to a dark room.

-Brandon

 

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The Love of Christ-For you

Jesus. Loves. you. I know that some might dread or roll their eyes regarding the amount of Jesus posts today. Some might even have a good laugh, but I genuinely mean what I’m saying (or rather typing), I know some people might point and say that myself and other Christians in the world or delusional for believing as we do. But the love of Jesus Christ has truly changed me inside and out, it was the love that I have always wanted and needed. The love that I have found in Christ, has moved me away from the yoke of perfection and to embrace the mad love and acceptance that he has poured out upon me. In my estimation, there are not enough words to describe how my life continues to change because of the love of Christ. Your life can change too, as though you were a new creation.

The One Thing Needed

Yesterday we took a look at the issue of worry and how we need to fully rely on God (F.R.O.G.) and not on our own strength. As I sought the high king for guidance and wisdom the passage for today, the passage in Luke 10:38-42 came to life in my heart and mind.

 

Here’s why, as people, especially in our American culture, we are under the assumption that if we are constantly running around like a chicken with its head cut off that we’re being productive and doing something with our lives, which may very well be the case sometimes. As Christians, life can often get in the way more than we would like to admit.

 

In Luke 10, Martha invites Jesus into her home, and is focused on being a good hostess. One can almost feel and sense the stress, worry and anxiety that is pulsating inside of her, like someone trying to serve everyone and make everyone comfortable at a party. Her sister Mary, though she could be helping Martha, decides to sit at the feet of Jesus.

 

I can almost see Martha throwing down her kitchen towel in frustration, saying, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” We’ve all felt this way, at least at some point in time. However, I would bet that most of us have never gotten the rebuttal that Jesus gives Martha.

 

Jesus calls Martha’s name twice. Now, in the Hebrew tradition, when a writer says something more than once, he is trying to get something of great importance across to the audience. In our culture, if a parent said our name more than once, it could very well mean that were in trouble. But you can almost see that while Jesus is stern with Martha, he is speaking with love.

 

We so often get so wrapped up in our daily cares of life that we forget that the most important daily routine is to sit at the feet of Christ. May we remember to be like Mary and choose the better things.

 

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60 days.

In an act of self-disclosure.

I want to say that I’ve been porn free for 60 days! That is the longest I have ever been without this horrible drug. And you know what? I feel amazing, the urge to use this drug is less and less every day. Is the temptation still there? Sure, but God is faithful, and  His strength is my strength.

I actually desire real relationships, real conversation, and interaction. My prior blog on being mentally tough remains true. For I am a warrior and no enemy will easily overcome me.

My weapon of choice is 1st Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

I can and will make it to 90 days, which is the standard time for the brain to fully re-wire. If you are struggling with any sort of addiction. You too can be free but know this: 1) you need Gods help, you need community, you need transparency and you need to be willing to give it time. But you can be free!

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Speaking of Self-Love (A Poem)

Self-love is something our society puts such a high price on.

Love yourself before you love anyone else.

Find happiness in yourself

Which is true, to an extent.

But I wonder, if like everything else in life,

things and people fall short of what they were

meant to be and do.

Even with all the self-love in the world,

lies the need for community. Hands upon our shoulders

in tough times, words of affirmation love and assurance.

Yet without the love and affirmation of others, the soul is like a flower that lacked in vitality.

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Why I have Always Wanted To Be A Navy Seal.

I have always had a strong admiration for navy seals, and all special forces units to be fair. I would always tell my dad, even at the age of thirty-two about my desire to be a navy seal. My dad’s response:

“You’d be one dead seal..”

Thanks pops!

So, what is it about being a navy seal that sticks out to me so much? Is it the weapons? Yes, Is it the diverse ways that they can approach a mission? You bet, but more importantly, they’re the world’s most bad ass dudes on the planet who are so mentally tough.

It’s the mentally tough aspects to them, that I admire so deeply. In life, I want to be able to endure the hardest situations and still have my focus and poise.  Navy seals persevere and find a way to keep going.

Yet the honest to God truth is that I am not as mentally strong as I’d like to be. In fact, I break under the threat of anxiety, depression and negative self-talk.  More often than night I want to quit and let the three obstacles mentioned above have their victory.

But I don’t quit despite what comes my way, I may want to but by Gods grace (unmerited favor) and love I find a way to get back, to find a way to persevere.

And you can too!

Over time, I truly believe that we can become mentally tougher. First, it starts by knowing the threat in front you, who or what you are facing and how they will attack your weaknesses.  If you don’t know who the enemy is and how they will attack you. You have lost already.

Secondly, as cliche as this is, you need to be accountable, you need to have a team of people beside you, behind you and in front of you. Sometimes that can be hard to find, but you can never win a battle on your own. You must learn to trust your team and know that they have your back.

In summary, you can become mentally stronger, as well as all other areas of your life. But it starts with knowing yourself and how you can improve. Then, we find a squad that can help us defeat the enemies in front of us so that we can stand in victory.

 

 

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Losing..

I feel so tired emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The past week or so I have felt such great negative energy around me, it leaves me drained, in one sense it leaves me wanting to be the Lord and in another sense, it leaves me feeling like I should consider going into hiding somewhere.

Much time has been spent in prayer and reading of scripture, yet there has been a nagging sense that I need to do more. Do in the sense that I need to do X, Y, and Z in order for God to love me.

Now I know deep down that this is not truth, it is not grace. It is slavery and my best efforts as a human being are like toilet paper after you have wiped your butt. The past weeks I have not felt that I have God’s unmerited favor, which is what grace is. Instead, I feel like I have to earn God’s approval, his peace, his justification and so on.

I know all the language, the do’s and dont’s, I know how to put on the church face. I know how to do it all. And to be honest, I’m sick of it all. I just want Jesus. But even with a statement like that, it’s bound to get some backlash.  “You can’t just have Jesus Brandon, you need A, B, and C too!”

It’s all so frustrating, I never feel like I am good enough as a Christian these days. And in a lot of ways, I’m not, and won’t until Christ returns.  I know I have to pursue holiness while in this body. I’m trying, and sometimes it seems like Christians can add more bricks than needed.

I’m tired, worn out and tired of feeling like I’m losing Gods amazing grace.

When Your Not Actually A Burden

Someone recently asked what my greatest struggle was, in regards to having cerebral palsy.  I stopped and thought about my response, (as everyone should do). As I was thinking, it occurred to me that it wasn’t the amount of physical pain that I have to endure some days or the fact that I use crutches or even a wheelchair. It was more the fact that I have I have felt like a burden in the past.

The only thing that I have yet to do, on my own is drive. Yes, I am aware that there are adaptations, but my startle reflex is bad, that even with adaptations I’d ram into someone. Am I completely giving up on trying? No, but I have been told by doctors that driving is not safe for me.

As such, I still have to ask for rides to go from place to place. A lot of times it doesn’t feel very good to ask for rides, because that means that they have me to tag along with them. For me, it could be that my mind races with various thoughts and feelings, it could be a thought as simple as “I feel horrible taking up their time, what if they have better things to do.” Or worse yet  “If I didn’t have CP then they wouldn’t have to deal with me.”

I know, it’s self-pity, but these are the real thoughts and feelings that have flown through the mental, emotional and even spiritual aspects of my being. Sometimes it feels like it’s all at once. When this happens, I often raise my fist toward God and blame Him for the life that I have.

But honestly, He has been pretty damn good to me, without my adaptive requirements. I wouldn’t be able to do have the things that I am doing now. Furthermore, I am thankful for everyone that has ever helped me get somewhere. The fact is, like anyone else I have really crappy days. Yet I try and pick myself off the ground by Gods grace.

The hope that I do have, though, is that all this “burden” **** is a lie, if you are like me and have struggled with driving unless you have a hundred percent proof that you can’t do it.You probably shouldn’t, but if you can still try, you should. And that goes for any goal in life. One should never feel ashamed by the physically challenged community for doing something on their timeline.

For it is your journey and no one else’s, and if people are not willing to help you. It’s their problem and loss more than anything because they missed out on the blessing of being in your life.

You matter. Don’t let anyone take that from you.serveimage

 

As A Man

I want to go on a journey of self-mastery.

I want to be in better control of my thoughts and emotions.

I want to say goodbye bye to childish behavior.

I want to know truth self-confidence.

I want to know what it’s like to live with insecurity and fear.

I want to disconnect

I want to know adventure and freedom.

Lord help me on this journey- on knowing what is to be a man.serveimage