When You Don’t Quite Measure up: Moving Past Obstacles, Leaping over Walls

This was originally written for a small writers group that I recently started, but I think its applications go beyond the writers’ realm.  The topic was what holds us back from our writing goals. Sometimes – at least for me – the biggest obstacles are walls I’ve built because of lies I’ve believed.


For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall                      Psalm 18:29 NKJV

(Yeah, I’m gonna take you back in history for this one. All the way back to the 80s)

The slimy water that dripped down my face was almost as degrading as the fall from the ropes itself. But before I  had a chance to start with the silent self-flagellation that I was so adept at, audible shouts shattered the quiet. “Airman! STAND UP! NOW!” A military instructor glared at me.

“But sir, I AM standing.” I responded meekly. And with those words, the stern-faced MTI burst into laughter.

I was not so amused.

A minor obstacle to joining the Air Force after high school was my height. I was an inch shy of the required 5 feet. Sort of summed up how I often felt about myself.

Never quite measuring up.

But the military graciously granted me a waiver, and I signed my life away to the U.S. government for the next 4 years.  As part of the Basic Military Training, we had to complete an obstacle course, which consisted of 19 obstacles. Four of them were over water. The deepest water, we were told, was 4 and a half feet. No problem for those of average height. But during one part of the course, when my sweaty hands slipped from the ropes, I found myself standing in mucky water up to my shoulders. It was the first time during my training I had seen any of the instructors crack a smile. Shame tapped my shoulder, an old acquaintance reminding me who I was.  Failure.

Although I failed that particular obstacle, I passed the other 18 and graduated with honors. I went on to Technical School at Lowry Air Force Base, where I also graduated with honors. While at Hurlburt Air Base in Florida, I attended Airman Leadership School. Although I was an exhausted young mother at the time, I received the John Levitow award. The Levitow  is the highest award presented at ALS, and is given to the student that demonstrated the most outstanding leadership and scholastic qualities. I was sure it was a fluke, a mistake. Because in my mind, the constant refrain of not measuring up played over and over.

Over the next decades, I built walls because of that belief.  (Yeah, yeah, they didn’t have to be very high walls. Still.)

I’ve kept people out. Refused to take risks. Haven’t stepped out of my comfort zone. Made excuses. Made more excuses. All because of some self-imposed certainty that I would never quite measure up.

(Even with heels.)

Lies from the enemy of my soul.

This past Veteran’s Day I was digging out some old “stuff” to show students at the high school where I am on staff, and as I began going through relics stuff, I realized something. That old course? It was never really called an obstacle course.

Its real name was The Confidence Course.

The Confidence Course.

Some things are put in our path that look an awful lot like obstacles. Some feel brutal, like they take every ounce of strength and ingenuity, and courage to get through. Or out of. Or over.

Maybe we need a different perspective, a new persepctive.

A God colored perspective.

One that makes us stronger, better. Believers instead of doubters.

Maybe we need to look at what is getting in our way of being who we are created to be, and what walls are preventing us from going where we are called to go.

And then realize.

We can leap those walls when we put our trust and faith in God instead of self.


What is holding YOU back? Mental strongholds? Time constraints? Finances?  Something else?

Give it to God.  View it with confidence. And watch those walls become distant flecks behind you.

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a 🙂