It’s been awhile since my husband has posted on my blog. Years actually, and not since before everything in our lives fell apart. But just a few weeks ago, he shared with me what God had been teaching him over the last year or so – something I had the privilege to watch firsthand but couldn’t find the words to describe. (After a few puppy-dog eyes and packages of Double Stuffed Oreos as payment) he agreed to share it with all of you. And I hope it speaks to you like it did to me.
(This is what courage looks like, people.)
Why You Shouldn’t Try To Get Back Up
By: Ricky Ortiz
I’m a fighter. I always have been. And, to a degree, I suppose I always will be. It’s in my blood, a part of who I am. Maybe it’s because I’m Hispanic and from the Bronx. Maybe it’s because I stayed up late on weekend nights watching pay-per-view boxing matches with my dad. Maybe it’s because when my dad left as a 10-year old boy, I felt vulnerable, exposed, and unprotected. Maybe it’s not just one of those things, but all of them.
One of my favorite memories from those childhood PPV boxing events was watching a fighter take a crippling punch, hit the mat seemingly out for the count, only to stumble and stagger their way back to their feet before the standing 8-count, stare their opponent in the eye and nod their head in a “Let’s go!” sort of way. Those moments always spoke to my soul. In my 9-year old mind, it was the equivalent of sticking up a middle finger to the opponent and saying, “You might be tough, but you ain’t as tough as me!”
Fight Till I Die
There’s something so empowering about staggering back up to your feet and fighting back. It’s like you’re taking back control of what something, or someone, has tried to take away from you – your pride, your joy, your hope… When you get knocked down, you have to get back up.
As I grew up, the fight and get-back-up mentality became ingrained in who I was and how I approached my circumstances. Whether I found myself knocked down because of what someone else did to me or as a result of my own decisions and actions, I knew I had to fight to get back up.
And for the most part, it worked. Until one day – one moment – it didn’t…
In February of 2014, my world as I knew it came crumbling down. Everything. Shattered.
There was no more fight left. Not because I didn’t want to fight, but because I couldn’t fight. Because for the previous 6 months of my life, I fought and fought, but to no avail. There was no more getting up. Not even a last-chance, stumbling-back-to-my-feet effort. I was done.
Funny how fighting is all you know, until you no longer know how to fight…
There was very little hope, and far less chance of redemption. All of this by my own doing and my own choosing. I was deceitful in my marriage, concealing an addiction to pornography as well as racking up thousands-upon-thousands of dollars in credit card debt behind my wife’s back. I knew in my head I couldn’t keep weaving this web of lies forever, but I guess I thought I could keep weaving it long enough to “correct” it on my own without ever getting caught. But I was had. On that fateful night in February, my lies were revealed and there was no hiding.
It was a crushing, if not fatal, blow. I was knocked down and out. The real me was exposed. And the weight of that moment came crashing down on me. Now please don’t misunderstand, in no way am I portraying myself as a victim. It was my deception that led to extreme heartbreak for my wife and my daughter. It was my actions that jeopardized their stability. It was my fear and cowardice that prevented me from confronting my reality and owning it.
But there’s something to be said when you realize the depth and scope of the consequences of your decisions. There’s an extreme heaviness that crashes over an individual when they realize how what they’ve done gravely affects the lives of the people you love the most. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there.
It’s truly a conflicting and paradoxical experience – to both love and hurt a group of people so deeply.
Die To Fight
Needless to say, under the force of that hit I crumbled to ground. But it was the ground…I had been there before. I knew the ground. I was well-acquainted with the ground. And I knew what it took to get up off the ground: I had to fight and I had to get up.
So I tried. For the next 6 months,
and it got me nowhere.
Then came that day – that moment – in August of 2014 when I finally surrendered my fight. It was time to stay down. I had to let my fight die.
Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures…”
He makes me…
He makes me lie down… Whoa!
Little did I know, but on that day, in that one moment, the Lord was making me lie down. This was different. This was new for me. Frankly, it was rather uncomfortable. Yet this is what the Lord wanted, for me to lie down in green pastures.
Over the last 19 months, my life has been found here in this green pasture. It’s been here where I’ve had to lay down my pride, my ambitions, my ego, my dreams, my resilience, and anything else that was “mine.” Yet, in being made to lie down and in laying all of those things down, I’ve found that I can stand tall and confidently because of what Jesus has done for me, the Holy Spirit at work in me, and the Heavenly Father’s approval of me.
It’s as if God, Himself, has spoken and said, “Rest, my son. You’re fighting is no good here. It is here, on this ground, where I have prepared a place of rest for you. A place to trust in My provision. A place where your victory is achieved not in your ability to fight, but in your dependence on me. A place where I can make you whole.”
Today, as the Lord is lifting me back up, I know I will face trials and difficulties. Of that I am sure. But no longer will I need to fight, for there is One who has already fought for me.
So what about you? Why fight your way back up if instead the Lord wants to lift you up?
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.