I Got Punched in the Face This Weekend

Literally. I got punched in the face this weekend. More than once.

I Just Keep Showing Up

After years of sitting on the sidelines while my boys took Tae Kwon Do lessons, I finally joined them.

Several nights per week for the last year, instead of sitting on the bleachers with the other moms chatting, I’m wearing my own white dobok. Rather than perusing through my smart phone, I’m kicking and punching.

It’s not been easy to start martial arts at the age of 41. Often I’m the only adult in a sea of little people. My body does not bend like the 15 year olds nor have the speed of the 10 year olds.

I’m not especially good at Tae Kwon Do but I’ve found I enjoy it.

Mostly, I just keep showing up.

Sara Gold Belt Green Stripe

Receiving my Gold Belt, Green Stripe

Which brings me to this weekend, when I signed up for my first tournament.

Tournament time

Tournament time!

Paul sparring

Paul sparring.

I Got Punched in the Face This Weekend

It’s 3:00 on Saturday afternoon and I’m kneeling at the side of a ring with two other women about my same age and rank.

We chat about the busy life of being a mom. We could just as easily be in the middle of Target, near a soccer field, or in the church parking lot — except that we are wearing helmets, foot and hand guards, and will put in mouth pieces in case we knock each other in the teeth.

My heart is beating like crazy as the judges call forward the first two competitors. I’ll sit out the first round. I’m nervous but feeling fairly confident. We are all gold belts so this should be a fair fight.

The center judge calls, “Sichup!” (Begin!), drops his hand, and they go.

Suddenly my heart isn’t beating as hard because it’s dropped into my stomach.

Have you ever had a time where your feelings shifted from, “Maybe I have a chance to win this!” to “Oh dear God, please just let me stay alive out there.”

This is one of those times. The way my competitors are sparring is far beyond my abilities. I realize I’m going to get creamed.

I stay on my feet. I sustain no lasting injuries. These are victories.

Otherwise, I think the technical term is I get my clock cleaned.

The first time I get punched in the face, it shocks me so much I don’t react. I hear my son Josiah, who is coaching from the sidelines, yell “Get your hands up!” (Aren’t my hands up? I think, bewildered. They feel up.)

The second time I get punched in the face, I am frustrated. I have practiced sparring with little kids and face contact isn’t allowed for children. This isn’t supposed to be happening!

While I’m pondering that, the third punch to the face comes. Argh!

I hear the judge call time. I go over to Josiah for our first short break. I begin to cry.

Drat. Drat!

Don’t cry. Don’t cry! Why am I crying? I can’t be crying!

But I am crying. Then I’m not breathing. I put my hands on top of my head like we’ve been taught.

This is bad. Josiah gives me some quick coaching. “Put your hands up like THIS. Kick more. Tae Kwon Do is kicking, Mom. Kick, Punch 1-2. Then move back.”

I survive 3 more rounds of this. I get a little better. Or maybe I’m just remembering that part.

I am still crying when we finish. An official calls us to the podium and I receive a 3rd place medal, because with 3 people there are, after all, 3 awards.

3rd place TKD

3rd place TKD

Somewhere in the midst of my walk up to the podium, the reception of my medal, and the walk back to my gear, I have a touch-point moment.

This is it, I think. This is the turning point. I could quit right now. There’s no obligation holding me to this sport.

I really want to quit. I am completely miserable in this moment. I am embarrassed, beaten, and broken down. My face is splotchy and red. I’d like to take off this medal and throw it across the room.

I am either going to taper off and quit, or I will use this as motivation to learn to be better. Which will I choose?

Which Will You Choose?

How has life punched you in the face recently? Depression or grief or money issues or death of a loved one or marriage troubles or kids with special needs or so much more come crashing in.

Life keeps coming at you over and over. You say, “Wait a minute! This isn’t how I had planned it! This isn’t in the rule book.” While you’re busy saying that, another punch comes.

Listen to what God says in Romans 5:3, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.” God has plans even for this.

I’m all about endurance. When it comes to fitness, I’m not fast, but I have endurance. I believe in the power of keepin’ on keepin’ on. We have to keep going, though, for God to work through our tough situations.

Keepin’ On Keepin’ On

Monday evening comes. I pick up my Tae Kwon Do bag and head to class.

I tell my instructors, a husband and wife who have been practicing Tae Kwon Do for 25+ years, about my experience. They are understanding and encouraging.

My instructors remind me, “As tough as it was, this fight was the best thing that could have happened. Now you know how to get better.”

“Oh, and the crying thing,” my female instructor comforts me, “that stinks, doesn’t it? Sometimes that happens to me, too.”

I Got Punched in the Face This Weekend

The Hope Toolbox

hope for depression

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.

Romans 5:3

Today’s Journaling Prompt:

How has life punched you in the face recently? Are you still down for the count or are you getting back up? Are you learning from your experience?


My Hope Toolbox Printable Kit for Depression & Anxiety

A Divine Encounter: How God Brings Deliverance From Fear

Kaylene Yoder: For When You Face Rejection

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