One summer semester in college I took Archery. After we finished the classroom instruction, we headed outside for target practice. The male instructor informed us once we hit a bull’s eye, we would receive an A and be finished with the course. Yay!
He added. No girl ever managed that feat in the shortened number of weeks left in our semester.
Gauntlet down. I determined to show him I was not just a girl.
Mind you, at the time I took that Archery class I was a non-traditional student. Not fresh out of high school. I couldn’t even technically be called a girl any more. Those days were long gone. Regardless, I was determined to do everything in my power to show that instructor females could hit a bull’s eye, no matter how short the time frame.
It didn’t happen on the first try. And not the second. But I’ll never forget the day I stood up to the line, took my stance, faced the target, pulled back the string, and let that arrow fly. Maid Marion had nothing on me.
Not only was I the first girl to hit the bull’s eye, I whacked the skin off my arm in the process. If you’ve ever had the bow string thwack across your forearm, you know the pain. And the swelling. And bruising. (Arm guards don’t help me. I need two of them on the same arm because my arm juts out at a funny angle.)
After my arrow sank into the target, my archery partner said something like “Way to go!” as he and I high-fived. YES!
We were stationed at the far end of the line of targets away from the instructor. When the instructor noticed my bull’s eye, he called down the line, “Which one of you boys hit that?”
I stepped out of the line and faced him. My male partner, who had not yet scored a bull’s eye, shouted back, “She did!”
The instructor’s stunned silence was priceless. When he gave us the all clear, I stepped forward, tugged my arrow from the hay target, walked back to my partner, and told him so long.
Of course, archery isn’t the only area where others try to define us, our worth, or our ability. It happens all the time in all arenas. It happens in our parenting skills. Our financial resources. Our jobs. Our relationship status. Our skill set. Our education. Our biblical knowledge. Pick an area, and someone will have something to say about it.
Sure, there are areas where we are not able to perform as well as others. You all should know by now I am NOT the chef extraordinaire Pilot is. But I can whip up rather decent desserts. And if you were to ask Pilot, I believe he’d tell you I do a better job with the laundry than he does.
Our abilities do not limit us from being used by God. What limits us is our availability and desire to be used. God can use each of us if we’re willing to let him. Our worth is in the fact we belong to Jesus. And because we belong to him, our desire is to be the best at whatever he wants us to be.
Others do not define us. God does. And he thinks we’re pretty special. Special enough to allow his son to die a horrid death so we would never be separated from him. I’d say that’s pretty special.
Any other toxophilites out there with archery stories to share?
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Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. Philippians 3:12-14 (Phillips)
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I too faced opposition due to being a minority in a group of majority. In my work most staff were in their 20’s, extroverted and normal-ish weight. I was a 50’s obese woman and an introvert. I had to work twice as hard to prove myself an equal.
Teresa, thanks for sharing your experience. Aren’t we glad God’s opinion is what defines us?
“Others do not define us. God does.” This is so true, and your illustration was great to get that point across, even if it did once take the skin off your arm! Thank you for this reminder, Sandy.
Thanks so much, Kathy. That is definitely an illustration I doubt I’ll forget. 🙂