Kickboxing and Moments of Grace

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Ever have one of those moments in mass or prayer where God just slaps you upside the head?

Yep. Today was one of those days. Tonight’s 8:30 mass was an awesome way to cap off an incredibly Grace-filled weekend. These past few days, my really super cool boyfriend, Kevin and I spent time with his family, attended a beautiful wedding, and shared our recognition of many recent instances of the Lord’s presence in our lives.

So, you can imagine how while sitting in mass tonight my heart was insanely filled with joy and peace and awe at what God is currently working on in my life. I had my eyes closed while the cantor proclaimed the responsorial psalm. It was based on Psalm 54 and the response included something to the likes of “The Lord Lights my Life.”

As I considered the words, all I could think about was all of the awesome things in my life, and at that moment, Kevin reached over to grab my hand. I recalled what a blessing he and our relationship are to me. Then, I joined the words of Psalm and was reminded that “The Lord Lights my Life.” The significance of these words tonight were twofold.

First, it was a reminder from the Lord, as wonderful as my relationship is, and as much joy as it brings to my life, there are parts of my life that can and will only ever be lit by the Lord. My identity is grounded in Christ, and it will only ever be fully brought to light through complete intimacy with and reliance on Him alone. It was fitting that this all clicked as Kevin reached over for my hand. That moment served as a reminder of the role of our relationship, and all of my relationships, in helping Christ light my life. The people in our lives, for me, Kevin, my family, and my friends, are holding our hand, walking with us as “the Lord lights our lives.” We are called, in our relationships to lead each other by the hand into the light of the Lord.

The second meaning of the Psalm hinges on the first. It is only through intimacy with the Lord and His bringing to light my true identity that He will in turn, be able to shed light on the plans He has for my life and the blessings He wants to bestow on me, His beloved daughter. How cool is that?

Kickboxing, Gangster Rap, and Why Its Really Ok That I’m Not That Strong

So, I have a new favorite addiction…

Maybe we shouldn’t call it an addiction, rather something I am really really really excited about doing.

At 5’2 and very petite, nothing makes you feel more hardcore than kicking the crud out of a 150 lb. hanging bag. Yes, Lilly Pulitzer sundresses all day… kickboxing at night. A walking contradiction — I know.

While kickboxing might be my new favorite thing to do, it’s really, really, really hard. If you think I’m exaggerating, let me put this into perspective for you, a one hour class burns 1200 calories (that’s almost an entire day’s worth). So, last Friday after working a crazy week helping to run our religious education program, I absolutely did not feel like spending an hour feeling like I was going to die, but because I am a glutton for punishment, I did it anyway.

Before starting class, I offered up a short prayer, sort of spontaneously, saying something like, “Lord, I am so tired, and I know I am going to struggle through this work out, please help me to use it to praise and thank you for the wonderful ways my body works.” I had offered my workout before, for my students, someone who’s sick, my relationship, or my family, but never like that, never just as a way to praise the Lord for a body that is capable of doing things.

Almost miraculously, the class with the crazy instructor became easy, because I was focused on the gift that my body was and the really cool things God enabled me to do with it in the way He created it. I thought left hooks, right upper cuts, roundhouse kicks, and that dreaded “bag up, knees up” (pushing the 150 lb. bag a foot off the ground while running high knees underneath it for like a minute at a time), became easier when powered by old school gangster rap, but gangster rap has nothing on the power of prayer.

It gets better. There was a moment where it all came together. We were doing a really crazy combination where you did two left jabs, followed by throwing two elbows into the bag, and then pushing off, clutching the bag and delivering two hard knee strikes to its core. In the midst of this, I being a hardcore Catholic nerd, am considering how this combination sort of resembles my relationship with Christ and His power over sin in my life. Like I said, I’m small. Two left jabs, and two elbows thrown from me aren’t going to do very much, no matter how hard I try, but, when I push off, take a minute, and then come back in, clutch the bag and deliver those knee strikes, all 150 lbs. of that bag moves. When I try to eliminate sin from my life on my own, I make a little progress, but not much. However, when I take a minute and step away through my prayer life, and then clutch the power of Christ, and use it to strike sin out, much like with clutching the bag and delivering knee strikes, I see the weight of my sinful tendencies move, and I am able to deliver disabling power against them.

It might sound crazy, but it made sense in my head. In that moment, I realized in a very real way that the Lord wants to be a part of everything we do, from the big things, like our family lives and our spirituality, to the little things, like our work day, or even our work out. He wants to speak to us through the circumstances of everything we encounter and use that opportunity to draw us into further intimacy with Him.

So whatever you do, whether it’s kickboxing, or running, or playing guitar, or painting, or dancing, do it with Christ in it, and see what it is He has to tell you.

“I praise you because I am wonderfully made! Wonderful are your works.” Psalm 139:14

Sarah Kearns

Sarah Kearns

Sarah Kearns born and raised in the state of Florida, into a wildly Irish Catholic family. She discovered Jesus Christ as being alive and deeply interested in a relationship with her during her latter years at Rutgers University. From there, she fell madly in love with Him and is constantly blown away at the beautiful and wonderful things He does in her life. She is currently working as the Assistant Director of Religious Education at a large parish in northern New Jersey and pursuing her Master’s degree in Moral Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She enjoys spending time with her awesome family and is looking forward to planning a life focused on loving and serving the Lord with her fiancé Kevin.

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4 Responses

  1. Indeed, God speaks to us in many different ways. Often, I even catch myself hearing his voice and receiving his message in the most unusual situations–as you did during one of your kickboxing session.

    Isn’t it amazing how much our Father tries to keep in touch with us? He speaks to us all the time. But in order for us to hear Him, we need to keep our hearts intertwined with His all of the time.

  2. I’ve had very similar experiences training for MMA. I even keep a striking mannikin in my home–every now and again when I feel gloomy, or concupiscent, or otherwise troubled by “the dark side”, I say a prayer to St. Michael, and imagine that the scowling dummy face represents my tempter.

    I’m probably going to be taken away on a stretcher one of these days, if anyone ever catches me slinging left and right hooks into that guy’s ugly mug while grunting that his foul stench is unwelcome, and that those in this house follow the Lord.

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