There I stood, miles from my comfort zone, vying for a spot on the varsity cheerleading squad. This was my first attempt at cheering and I can honestly say, I would have rather been having a root canal. The once familiar gym floor felt like foreign soil. Anxiety kicked in as my feet kicked up.

Short of breath, it was as if the oxygen had been zapped from the room. Surely this lack of oxygen contributed to my forgetting most of the routine I was struggling through. I don’t know why I waited until high school to do this, obviously the other girls had been cheering since the womb. Still, I was determined to try, even though deep in my heart, I knew.

You can probably guess how this all turned out. For years after I felt like a failure. I failed to gain acceptance to the group who wore matching uniforms on pep-rally days. Then it all came to light. You see, I was never meant to be a cheerleader. Back-flips terrified me, and my perfect cartwheel wouldn’t get me far on the cheering circuit. I do however, have mad twirling skills, so why didn’t I tryout for majorette? Looking back I wish I had, it would have been a much better fit for my gifts, talents, and abilities.

Feeling out of the loop and not part of the group is disheartening. Ever been there? Well this should hearten you:  through faith in Christ, we never have to feel that way again. We become members of one body – unified.

We are each a unique, one-of-a-kind creation by our Creator. God has given each of us gifts, talents, and abilities all our own, so why try to make up our own version of who we are?

I am most free when I am who God created me to be. When I try to be someone I’m not, it’s like using the wrong key to unlock a door. What happens? The door stays locked and I’ve created a barrier between my plans and God’s plans for me.

Just as cheerleaders put on uniforms of solidarity and unification, believers put on Christ. We put on a brand-new self.  We put on the Armor of God, we are a member of His army. We are His chosen, putting on many beautiful virtues, above all, love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  

Here’s the truth: we all yearn to be a part of a group, to be accepted, to be a part of something bigger then ourselves.  God deposited that desire in us. We don’t have to tryout, He says come just as you are. He accepts us and His approval is all we need; His grace is sufficient.

Were you heartened by that truth? Did you know the definition of hearten is: “to give heart to: cheer” Guess if you were heartened, I’m a cheerleader after all.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”  Colossians 3:11-14

Share an experience when you sought to be part of a group. What did you learn from it?