Face Your Battles- Identity Part 2

Battles Every Man Must Win

MW Editor: Mentoring Warriors welcomes Troy Mangum to the MW tribe of wisdom warriors. Author of Fatherhood Faceplants, Mangum offers real-experience advice on what it means to be a father fathered by God. Many warriors are becoming dads, with little ones to raise. This week and next, lean into the words of a dad who grew through his own faceplants. Troy continues his story from last week.

Here is how it played out. I was driving down the road, after I had quit my dream of becoming a missionary, with thoughts of my failing report card at work. I was distraught. It seemed the things I wanted most in my life never happened. I was feeling hopeless. I was at my end. A scene of a boxing ring formed in my head while I was driving. It was so vivid. To use charismatic speech, I think I was having an open vision. In non-spiritual language, man, my imagination was going wild while I drove down the highway.

Open Vision Time

The scene opened with me getting smashed across the jaw by an enormous fist. Sweat jumped off my face as my body slowly twisted toward the floor. I landed with a tremendous thud and my body bounced slighted off the mat.

I did not want to get up. I could hear my trainer from the corner of the ring yelling in slow motion, “Get Up!” I lost count of the number of rounds I had gone at this point. My face was flat on the mat. My mouth guard hung out of my mouth, drool.

I heard my thoughts. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. I’ll just lay here and the blows will stop. Every time they land right where it hurts. Every time! As I laid there, time stood still. The pain of the blows sunk even deeper. The scene seemed so visceral, real, and targeted. With my face flat on the mat, I recounted the bout play-by-play. Every jab delivered with an identity-crushing message of rejection.

A knee to the chest—“Everyone has rejected you.” A right hook across my jaw—“Your family has rejected you.” An uppercut to the chin— “Your friends have rejected you.” Several quick body blows—“No one wants to hear anything you have to say.” A jab to the forehead—“Your work doesn’t want you.” And a final hit below the belt—“Even God does not want you.”

It all felt so true. It seemed I had spent the better part of my life in this ring getting pummeled. The vision was like a metaphor for my life. Then the fight against my identity would subside as if I was not in a ring at all. I’d have time for bruises to heal. I’d have time to regain my strength and stamina back. Then unexpected circumstances would occur, hopes and dreams dashed, identity shaken, and out comes my opponent. One-Two-Three nailing the same spots over and over. So here I was again. I wanted it to be over. I thought of options to end this life-long battle. “I’ll just stop trying. I won’t care. I’ll stop training. I’ll stop fighting, then I won’t have to face my opponent. I’ll stop pursuing God’s call. I’ll stay below the radar. I’ll get by. I’ll settle.” Like a smelling salt, I heard the voice of my trainer again in slow motion, “Get Up!”

The referee started the count one, two, three . . . Still, facedown, I thought to myself, I may not have the strength to fight this battle. The count continued, four, five. But I found the strength to get up. Six-seven. I decided to not give in. Not today. Eight-nine. Not ever. With the little strength I had left, I stood. Boxing gloves by my side. Sweat dripping off my body. A bloody cut above my left eyebrow, dripping into my eye, made it hard to see. I stood in defiance.

As I lifted my face, I whispered, “It’s not true.” My opponent cocked his head with a grimace. “What did you say?” Again, “It’s not true.” Then louder, “It’s not true!” Then even louder, “It’s not true!”

My opponent flies at me. With gloves by my side out of exhaustion, all I could do was proclaim the truth. I am deeply loved! I am not rejected! I am accepted! I am chosen! In my periphery, I see my trainer jumping around, his arms in the air, rejoicing with songs of victory! (Zeph 3:17, NIV). My opponent swung with all his might, but he could not get near me. His gloves did not touch me.

I Won.

From my youth, Satan has hit me over and over again in the same old bruised spots. But no more. Today I got up in the midst of the fight. I did not stay down for the count. I heard the voice of my trainer, my Father God, from the corner of the ring saying, “Get up!” And I did. Your identity is Satan’s primary target because all else flows from that central place.

Do you know who you are? Can you defend your identity against all the attacks that will come your way? If Satan can capture your identity, then all the other dominos in your life will fall. Your allegiance to God will crumble because if God does not like you, love you, or is mad at you, then why bother? Your thirst for accolades and respect drive you to poisoned wells to drink. Then you will drink and join the walking dead. I won the victory in the car. I fought against the lie that God rejected me and did not want me, the same way I had felt all the other people in my life had rejected me at one time or another.

Satan wanted me to align my belief to a lie based on my current disappointment. Satan is opportunistic and jumps on circumstances to continue this campaign against you. Face every disappointment with the truth of God’s word about you, stand strong, and you will overcome. In His perfect timing, a year later we ended up going to YWAM Kona. Your identity must be based on God’s love for you as His son or you will lose this critical battle every time. Jesus fought Satan’s accusations against His identity during His temptation. “If you are the Son of God . . .” the gospel of Matthew chapter 4 reads. The Devil was pointing at His circumstances of hunger to question what His Father said about Him. Jesus fought Him with Scripture He believed. He will teach you to do the same. Are you a sinner who occasionally gets it right or a saint who occasionally gets it wrong? This is a key question many have written about and discussed.

The Devil wants to tie your circumstances to your identity.

If you sin, you are a sinner. If you do righteous things, you are a saint. Who would ever win that battle? No one! That is a losing strategy. If you want to win the battle of identity and subsequently, lead your kids to win the same, you have to start from what God says about you. You are a saint who occasionally gets it wrong. I am not saying you are sinless, but your core, God-given identity is a saint, a righteous man. Your fight is to become who God says you are, to act like it, smell like it, and talk like it. Don’t believe me, believe the following Scriptures that define who you are:

In Jesus, your identity is “blameless” —Jude 1:24

In Jesus, you are the “righteousness of God” —2 Cor 5:21

In Jesus, you are “righteous and holy” —Eph 4:24

Now put on your boxing gloves, get up, and fight to align your life to your God-given identity. In turn, you will be able to train your children how to win when the enemy comes after their identities. As I shared before, God showed me one way to fight for my children was to draw them each a word picture of how God saw them. Through the years, I reminded them every chance I could what God said about them. Not looking at their current behavior or circumstances, instead, I reinforced their God-given identity, no matter how it looked on the outside. Years later, Avi, who was not a perfect kid by any stretch, remarked how he always knew who he was. Even when his behavior did not align with his identity, he knew he was not acting like his God-given self.

Wrap Up

How does God see you? Look beyond your behavior to your identity rooted in Him. Jesus is the only true source for life.

Warrior On!

Troy Mangum

Troy is an author, speaker, podcaster (The Kindling Fire), and men’s advocate. Creator of Hocoka Men- (an initiation experience for young men), and Be True Threads- (a cause clothing brand). A Lumbee Indian Tribal member. Troy lives in Raleigh NC with his wife Kathy. He has two sons, two daughters, and one son-in-law.

A former YWAM missionary, hardcore punk singer, substance abuse counselor, busker, longboarder, exotic fruit farmer, vert skater, singer-songwriter, software engineering manager, traveling hitchhiker, and seminary dropout.

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