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Ronda was the most unassailable and feared icon of her sport. In May 2015, two magazines ranked Rousey as the most dominant active athlete. An ESPN poll voted her as the Best Female Athlete Ever. In September 2015, she claimed she was currently the UFC’s highest-paid fighter, male or female (Wikipedia). She loved her self-perpetuated, hard-earned, and mostly well-deserved image. No doubt, it was an ego trip that fed her insatiable desires to be honored, adored, and accepted by people. Her gifts bought her a sense of belonging in a world that goes to any length for love.
For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes (Job 3:25-26).
Then the one thing that meant the most to her was stripped from her. Beaten out of her is a more accurate descriptor. Holly Holm dealt a crushing foot kick to the side of Rousey’s head in the second round, and the queen of mayhem and all of her self-sustained glory came tumbling down. What people could not perceive in that devastating moment was how losing her championship belt was not the main thing she feared. Her belt was merely the portal through which she accessed the desires of her heart: appreciation, adoration, acceptance, and approval—to name a few.
When what she craved more than anything else in the world was taken from her, only then did Ronda Rousey not want to live any longer. She reflected on her loss while in the hospital, after being knocked from the throne of her most precious desires. She said the following on the Ellen DeGeneres show:
I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself, and that exact second I’m like, “I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? And no one gives a ($#!+) about me anymore without this.” To be honest, I looked up, and I saw my man, Travis (Browne) was standing there, and I looked up at him, and I was like, I need to have his babies. I need to stay alive. —The Score
I do not think critically of Ronda Rousey for saying these things. I do not look down on her. What I feel is sadness for her, as well as for me too. I also feel exposed and vulnerable. What I’m saying is that I’m no different from her. She said what most, if not all of us, know in our hearts. When we lose the thing we love the most, we are in the most vulnerable place in our lives, revealing the strength of our faith. Paul said it this way,
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
The merciful hand of God carried Paul into the crucible of suffering. The Lord took him beyond his ability to control the situation. Paul’s self-reliant tendencies to be in control of his universe slipped from his grasp. The Lord taught Paul how to rely on something more durable, better, wiser, and more enduring than anything Paul could sustain under his native ability. The Lord gave Paul a kind of suffering that he could not manipulate (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
It is easy to build and cling to things that give meaning to life and belonging. These things are not necessarily wrong, or they do not have to be. I suspect most of the time, your most treasured treasures are good things. They turn bad when they become the primary vehicle to bring what you believe you need to feel okay about life.
That is why the good things in your life have the potential of being bad things. You will know if you have misplaced affection by how you react to losing something. If your life is destabilized by a loss, to where you cannot function without your treasure, your devotion is misplaced. Ronda had a God-given strength, which she should be grateful for rather than an idol to worship (Romans 1:24-25). Unfortunately, her excellent gifting took control of her life (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). After she had lost, there were two options left: suicide or replace what she lost with something she hoped would give her strength, hence the new desire to have babies.
It reminded me of the time I asked a man if he could lose his salvation. He said, “Yes.” There was a long pause before he followed with, “If God ceases to exist.” I loved his fantastic response. He knew the strength of his hope rested on someone who would never leave or forsake him (Romans 8:31-39). If you are a Christian, you will be victorious as long as God lives (Deuteronomy 31:6). Oh, what comfort! The means that give you belonging, acceptance, approval, significance, love, honor, and so much more flow out of God’s eternal love.
You are only as strong as the thing in which you find your strength. Ronda Rousey found her strength through her ability to beat up people. That kind of power made her weak. That kind of wisdom made her foolish. As long as she could win, she would be the victor. Her strength became her greatest weakness (1 Corinthians 1:25). I met a man a few years ago with a Mensa-level IQ. I asked him what would happen if he lost brain function, to the point where he could not use his considerable intellect to feed the adoration he received for being so smart. He said, “The world would cease to exist for me.”
Like Rousey, I did not feel critical of him. I felt exposed. I felt vulnerable because I am similar. It is easy to rely on our strengths or other means we over prioritize to comfort us rather than rely on the One who raises the dead (Matthew 6:21). If your greatest strength or the thing you treasure the most is not God, your greatest strength will make you vulnerable and even desperate if something or someone removes it from your heart’s throne. Perhaps you’re not a Mensa-caliber person. Maybe you’re not going to be an MMA legend. Yet, if you lost your greatest treasure, you would lose the desire to live.
You don’t have to lose something to know if that something has replaced God. With a little time and reflection, through meaningful prayer and conversation, you can discern your most significant treasure. Perhaps it would be good for you to share these ideas with a friend. Ask their opinions about their perception of you, particularly your most significant treasure.
It is better to know the answer now rather than waiting until you’re sprawled cold on the canvas of life, knocked out by the roaring lioness who finds no greater joy than to devour you (1 Peter 5:8). What is your most treasured treasure?
Knowing your most valued treasure is to think about how you respond when you lose that thing. Here are a few examples:
Editor’s Note: This is a republication I decided to run after reading about Ronda’s return to the ring after a thirteen-month break from MMA. She lost in forty-eight seconds of the first round. It was another knockout.