One of my favorite narratives of all time is the story of the underdog. Maybe it’s because of the way I was raised in a small Indiana town or the fact that my entire life I have felt like an underdog, struggling with dyslexia, my dad who has been MIA since I was born or the fact that I am built to withstand high winds. Maybe it’s the fact that I have been a Cubs fan my whole life or a Notre Dame football fan. My sports teams usually have been underdogs for sure.
A few years ago, we were in the midst of a transition in our lives. If I had to be completely honest, I was afraid that I was going to fail in my venture while in the midst of this transition. It seemed like I was failing left and right. My wife and I had made the decision to move on from our positions with an organization that we had grown to love. It simply was the right time to move on for the sake of our family and for our careers. As we explored the next several career options, doors were shutting left and right it seemed.
I remember moping around wondering why God was seemingly holding me back from what I thought was my next season in life. I wrestled through the thought of “am I really this big of an underdog?” I’ve kept a journal since I was 17. Don’t judge me. It’s a journal not a diary! I’ve never written “Dear Diary…”. In that journal, I’ve told God “I don’t think you’ll ever be able to use me because I’m not qualified. My chances are too slim. My reputation is pretty much screwed because of the decisions I’ve made in my past. I don’t have enough resources or the right connections.” These statements that I continually believed and told myself literally arrested my potential.
Maybe you’ve told yourself some of those same statements. If so, I want to give you permission to allow yourself to believe that you are significant. You can be used to make this world a better place. You have the potential to be used for good. Someone had to literally give me permission to believe that God wants to use me in order for me to believe it. If you feel like you’re an underdog, if you feel like you’re not qualified enough or your reputation is screwed because of the decisions you’ve made in your past (even if your past is the last few seconds), you are not alone.
One of the wisest women I know asked me a question during those ‘moping’ seasons of my life. She asked me, “Why not you? Why shouldn’t you be considered for that job? Why shouldn’t you be considered for that promotion? Why shouldn’t you be used to change this world for the better?” As I sat across the table from this amazingly wise woman, I couldn’t come up with any legitimate excuse. So, I had to challenge this thought pattern that had been part of my life for as long as I could remember.
If you google parasite cuckoo bird you’ll discover something remarkable. The cuckoo bird lays an egg that if undetected will kill the future potential legacy of the native bird and eventually may kill the parents of the native birds. The cuckoo mamma bird lays her egg in the nest of a neighboring bird. The cuckoo egg hatches and kills the other eggs in some Survivor-style TV show. The parent birds have no clue what happened to their actual offspring and can only think of feeding the cuckoo bird. If they don’t realize that the cuckoo toddler bird isn’t their real offspring, they will feed this bird nonstop exhausting themselves to the point of death. They will kill themselves trying to feed this bird that isn’t even theirs to feed.
Being told we are underdogs can kill the potential in us if we aren’t careful. If we don’t detect the lies in our lives such as we aren’t qualified enough, our chances are too slim, we don’t have a good reputation or that we don’t have enough resources, we’ll kill the potential in our lives.
At this point in the blog, we usually would go in one of two directions. I could tell you that everything you need to succeed is already in you. I could tell you that you’re good enough, smart enough and doggone it, people like you. I could tell you that God has put some amazing potential in you and that all you have to do is pray and seek Him. That is usually how this goes, but I actually think there’s a different path. Maybe there is the potential of a third direction. What if God does have an amazing plan for you full of potential? What if you actually had to respond to God’s leading? What if you need to challenge the cuckoos that have been dropped into your life throughout the years? Without challenging these parasites, we’ll never live up to our potential. Those cuckoos in our life will keep us from reaching our potential!
Cuckoos will usually look like a label that someone gave us. Some of the labels might be ‘loser, fat, not good enough, wrong, bad person, slut, failure, punk or fired’. Whatever the label, I’d encourage you to examine that label and compare it to what Jesus says about you. In spite of the label you might carry, Jesus found you worthy of giving His life for you.
God has something amazing for you in store. He created you on purpose for a purpose. You will need to respond to His leading though. Life transformation usually doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a series of decisions that allow God to move in our lives to transform us. It might need to begin with you verbally declaring that you’re worthy or reading a portion of the Bible each day to grasp what God says about you. It might be that you need to identify the cuckoos in your life and decide to challenge them. Whatever it is, I would encourage you to do something starting today.
Several years ago, I was on a trip and had to rent a car. When the I got to the rental place they gave me an upgrade. The car had GPS and I was in a parking garage with a very weak signal. After the attendant showed me how the GPS system worked, I entered the address and expected the entire list of directions to be given to me at once. I was frustrated because I couldn’t get all of the directions at once in order to determine if I should trust the given directions. The GPS system told me “the map will appear when the car is in motion.” I had to trust to a degree, but I also had to put my car into motion. The same principle can be applied to my own relationship with Jesus.
I don’t know if I’ll ever receive all the directions to my relationship with Jesus at once. It most likely is going to happen as I follow Jesus a little bit at a time. As I continue to follow Jesus, I identify more and more cuckoos in my life that don’t compare to what Jesus says about me. As I identify them, I have to determine whose voice I’m going to follow.
Photo by Dan Chung on Unsplash