Monday, March 28, 2016

1 Year Later // Reflecting On My 1st Degree Black Belt Test

PC: Gabriel Monson

Today, March 28th, marks one year since the realization of a dream and goal that took 6 years to reach. Like anything worth having or any goal worth reaching, it was difficult. Getting there meant a great deal of sacrifice, time, sweat, tears, and blood (literally!). It was, and will probably forever remain one of the greatest and most remarkable days of my life. "Why?" you may ask. Let me try to explain.

That day marked a great victory for me. A victory over myself. A victory, over the obstacles, doubts, and fears that could have prevented me from pushing on and completing the course I had set out on. On that day and in those moments that it consisted of, I knew without a doubt in the very deepest part of my soul that I was exactly where God wanted me to be, and that the only reason I made it there was because of Him. It was a day not of showing what I could do (although it did consist of that) but of showing who I am. Would I give up and quit when the choice presented itself or would I push through the difficulty, the pain, and the exhaustion. I had come this far, now was the day it all got laid on the line. This was the time of reckoning. So many people had selflessly poured out their time, energy, and resources into helping me reach this goal, and I wanted so badly to make these people proud. But most of all, my prayer and plea to God Almighty was that whatever the outcome of the day, that my performance would bring glory to Him.

With so much seemingly hanging in the balance, one would naturally think, that I would feel nervous.  Did I feel nervous though?  Amazingly no.  In what I can only explain as divine working, nervousness was taken away and replaced by the the most amazing peace I have ever felt.  It was the type of peace that is only possible in knowing that you are exactly where God wants you to be and resting completely in whatever He deems the outcome should be.  That day, I felt a joy that transcends my ability to describe.  It's a joy so powerful that there is no possible way it could have come from me.  A joy that almost brings me to tears even as a write this now a year later.  I also felt loved.  So incredibly, loved.

What was this significant day?  It was my black belt test.  If you would like, you can read My Karate History, which is an overview of my journey from white belt to black belt, it shares more of the story.  Ever since watching an ABKA black belt test for the first time 4 1/2 years earlier, I had looked forward to when it would be my turn.  Something about the grueling intensity, the challenge of working towards that test, and then undergoing and pushing through such a physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing day pumped me up and made me incredibly excited for when it would be my turn.  It might sound a little crazy to some, but it's the gospel truth;  extreme challenges motivate me, and this was certainly a humdinger.  Little did I know that my journey to testing for black belt would change me in ways, and teach me things, I never would have thought it could.

You see, it wasn't a journey of becoming some kind of ultimate human weapon, like some people ignorantly misinterpret it to be.  If that was the case, I didn't come anywhere close to succeeding.   True, there was a lot of physical prep that took place along the way from white belt to black belt.  I had to learn to break boards or rock; learn how to fight off 4 attackers at once; learn to take blows to the face, and keep on going; build the stamina to fight 10, two minute, back to back matches, and then some.  It consisted of those and many other physically difficult and demanding things but it was more, so much more.  

It was a journey of learning how to set and pursue goals.  It was a journey of learning to trust in God and His timing and ability to work things out.  It was a time of learning absolute surrender to God and His plan for me.  It was a time of learning extreme self control and self discipline, to put in the time and effort it took to prepare for reaching a goal.  It taught me how to get back up and keep going when I've been knocked down (both figuratively and literally). And it taught me that if you really want to do something, and it's God's will for you, the only thing that can stop you from reaching that goal or dream is.... yourself.  It may not happen in the time you want, but it can happen. Through it, I also experienced first hand that nothing great is ever accomplished without great sacrifice.

I could replay all of what I've just written out, and all the wonderful, hard, crazy, unbelievable details of that day and my journey to it for the rest of my life.  I could continue to dwell there and what an amazing time that was.  But, that time is past. Continuing to replay all of that doesn't get me any further down the road towards pursuing other goals.  It's impossible to move forward if you are stuck in the past.

As I've been thinking about all of this, I've also been thinking about where I wanted to be right now a year from my test, where I actually am, and what direction I am headed in.  My hopes for where I would be with karate in both learning and teaching haven't come to fruition, yet.  I had hoped to be working towards testing for my 2nd degree this Fall, and really wanted to have opened a school here in North Idaho by now.  Currently, I'm waiting on some things to happen to move towards either of those goals, that are dependent on other people so for right now it's out of my hands. Things are still uncertain, and I'm at that point of waiting that can be very difficult, especially when I'm chomping at the bit to be moving forward.

But, because of past experiences I know the situation is in good hands, the best hands possible.  God revealed Himself to me through my experience that culminated a year ago, in a way that I will remember for the rest of my life.  I had seen God work through situations for our family as a whole, and heard and witnessed the stories of Him working through situations for my parents, but this was different.  This was the first completely personal experience that I could recognize God working through a situation for me.  And because of that, reaching Shodan (1st degree) Black Belt will always have a special meaning and significance to me beyond just reaching that goal.

What is a situation or circumstance that God has revealed himself to you?

Do you have a goal (or goals!) that you are currently working on?


1 comment:

  1. O this was beautiful to read.
    Definitely is encouraging to see you having reached your goal and how you have persevered.
    I have definitely had those days where I think that the only thing to do is quit, and then I am like LEAH!! NO!!!!!!!! Perseverance and Self-control.
    I had to test for my green belt the 21st of this month and had to break a board for the first time. *cue terrified face* But I did it no problem (and later realized that it was the wrong board and it was ment for one of the black belts in the class after me) so I did more than was set out for me and can only give God the glory for it.
    It is very encouraging to read this and I hope that your dream of 2nd degree blackbelt will come to pass if it is in God's will for you.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.


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