Who doesn’t just love watching the Olympics. This summer, my children have finally caught the fever with me. We’ve watched the women’s sand volleyball, the men’s swimming, the rowing, the archery, the running races, the bike races, and so much more. We might have been even, dare I say, overheard by our neighbors as we cheered and clapped for our very own USA champions like Michael Phelps, and Ryan Lochte, or Misty May and Kerri Walsh and yes, having three girls, the Fab Five have been celebrated to every medal.
It’s been such a wonderful way to end the Summer, and energize us to begin yet another school year, in a few short weeks. Watching these Olympic games have spurned more conversations lately about hard work, dedication and what it must feel like to realize a dream. I love these kind of conversations, which spontaneously arise, as we fast forward through a gazillion or so commercials, (thank you DVR). It’s been such a blessing to witness my little ones faces, as they realize, that they can accomplish their dreams too, if they work hard enough for it, if it’s God plan for them, and if they don’t give up on it. They light up like a Christmas tree, talking about their dreams, during these Summer weeks. And it’s been such a gift, to be present to them, to be here, available to them, so they can ask their questions, dream a little together, and watch others see their life long goals being achieved.
Something interesting happened during the Women’s Gymnastics All Around, where American Gabby Douglas won Gold. Her fierce competitor was a young girl from Russia, Victoria Komova. The competition was tough, and these two were neck and neck. It wasn’t clear who would take the gold and who would take the silver until the final event and the final scores were shown. After seeing this young Russian do her best, make so few mistakes, I actually found myself happy for her, after her final routine. She had done well, her best, and when the results were made known, it was only fractions of a point that separated these two young ladies.
For those of you who did watch this, know what happened thereafter. This young Russian broke down, really broke down. Losing the gold was too much for her, and all the stress, tension and anxiety to win flooded down her face, and it was clear, she wasn’t thrilled with second place. These young girls train to win, work long hours every day to take the top spot. How many injuries each athlete has probably had to endure, has had to heal from, and try again afterwards. How many weeks or months, even years, do these girls train away from family, friends and a normal teenage life. Olympian medalists have a different life then the rest of us, and to see them in action, to see them compete in the highest of stressful situations with millions and millions watching, well, anyone can break down, can crack, can be less than noble. It’s understandable.
And I got caught in the emotion as well. When I saw this young Russian cry, I cried with her. Was I happy for our American Olympian, Gabby Douglas? Of course. I medal count with the best of them. But to see this young girl’s face, stricken after taking silver, broke my heart too.
My kids were clearly confused. They had no clue why I was crying when the USA had won the gold. Isn’t this what we’ve been cheering for? Don’t we silently hoping other athletes make a few mistakes? My little ones begged for explanation, and then I explained why I cried for this Russian.
“Oh kids, imagine all the hard work she put in, all the years she has trained. These girls work their whole life, at times, taken from their families, for this sole purpose, to win it all, to take home a gold medal for their country. Kids, she did really well. She didn’t make major mistakes. And look at her. She is crushed. I feel for her.”
Later while thinking this over, it occurred to me what perhaps I should have said. Perhaps I should have emphasized that in competition, fierce like this, sometimes humanity can get lost. It comes down to fractions of points, or hundredths of a second, and the mechanics of time, scoring, degree of difficulty and so on can take over the reality that these are real people out there. These are real individuals with family, friends, pressure and real feelings just like any of us. There is a humanity to these games. We see champions rejoice with such joy and exuberance, and we also see such sadness, frustration over a loss. These people are not machines, they work to be the best at what God has called them to be.
That’s admirable for anyone watching these games. To excel at whatever God has planned for you. To work endlessly, with determination, with grit and vigor, with tenacity to not give up when it gets difficult. Well, that’s a pretty perfect lesson for my kids. God will call each one of them to their own specific path, and for sure it will be marked with the ups and downs of any life journey. There will be times to rejoice in a personal win, and then there will be times to mourn a loss, but in the end, it’s not so much about focusing on the destination, but how we got there. And the end tastes that much sweeter when our own hard work, sacrifice and eagerness to align ourselves with His Will has been the character of our journey. Would we enjoy any win, if it was just handed to us?
As we press forward into yet another school year with its own ups and downs, I pray that I can pull from these Olympic games, the spirit of always training hard, putting forth ones best. It’s about finding satisfaction in accomplishing what God had set out for each one of them. Lastly, I hope to pull from these 2012 London Games, that dreams can come true, when we put our mind, heart and will to the task.
Copyright 2012 Sahmatwork