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My first and only experience watching a good old-fashioned tug-of-war was shortly after I got married. I was a newlywed living in married student housing at a Christian college in Texas. My husband had pledged to a fraternity just before we got married. Every spring, the four fraternities on campus would compete in this the right of passage that had been a tradition for many years.  

Hundreds of students and faculty gathered and filled the grassy area that surrounded the campus pond. The frat members took their spots on the heavy rope, and the competition began. It wasn’t a quick or painless process. The knot at the center of the rope tracked back and forth as each frat took their turn in synchronized effort. Rarely did one frat have steady success. It was a series of progress and setback.  

I’ve experienced a mental and spiritual tug-of-war lately that really brought this college memory back to mind.  

Choosing a college is a grueling process. We have been through it once before with our oldest daughter. There was much at stake, as we considered majors, distance from home, and the cost of tuition. Now we are going through it with our middle child, and it has been a slightly more chaotic journey. All the considerations are the same as we experienced with our eldest, but now enters the twist of college sports. Does she choose basketball or soccer? Does she specifically choose a school that will allow her to play dual sports? Offers have been coming from both Christian and secular schools, so do we favor one over the other? Or do we go so as far as to exclude one altogether? How much weight do we put on the connection with the coach or their latest record? At what cost do we chase the best financial offer?  

Day to day and sometimes moment to moment, my thoughts change as they chase after my feelings. I go back and forth. At times I want to cover my ears to blot out all the opposing voices. I hear a song, read a verse, or listen to a podcast, and I rejoice as I am reminded of the good news that God is in control. But at a moment’s notice, fear grips me and I scramble to take back control of the turbulent process. It’s a mental and a spiritual tug-of-war.  

As I consider the struggle, I’m reminded of the time when Jesus healed the boy with the unclean spirit.

Jesus said to the father, “All things are possible if you believe.” 

The father was desperate for his sons’ healing, and he cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief.”  

As I see our situation in regard to choosing the right college, I say, “I trust you, God. Restore my lack of trust.” That’s my prayer even this day, as we remain undecided.  

What are you facing today that is causing a mental or spiritual tug-of-war?

I encourage you to read God’s word and pray for a heart that’s open to his direction. Be honest with Him and offer your prayer, even if your prayer echoes, “I trust you, God. Please help me to trust you!” 

Sherry Libby

Sherry Libby is a wife and a stay-at-home mom of three. After years in the medical field, she now enjoys spending more time on the home front. She is involved in women’s ministries at her local church and she also teaches group fitness through a Christian ministry called Body & Soul Fitness.

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