Sometimes You Need a Little Olympic Fire

Olympic Torch

I am not really a sports fan. Sure, I'll watch a big game if there's a party, but I don't follow teams, or get emotionally involved.

My dad is a massive football fan, so I learned the rules of football in my childhood. But my husband doesn't care for organized sports. Except maybe ice hockey, which is not the most wildly popular sport in Texas.

Televised sports are just not part of our family culture.


The Olympics are a different story. I love to watch the Olympics. Summer or Winter, it doesn't matter. I love it all.

It seems like a disconnect doesn't it? It's not like I am scanning the TV schedule for the National Championships in gymnastics, or the Olympic Trials in diving. But once THE Games begin, I have to tear myself away from the television.

I think it's my fascination with human beings. I search for people who truly inspire me, for people who have boldly persevered.

Don't we all want to be someone who does amazing things despite obstacles?

This year I have been thinking a lot about what it took for each of the Olympic athletes to get where they are. I know genetic blessing plays a role in it, but nobody gets to the Olympics without work. A lot of work.

And sacrifice. Every one of them had to give something up to be the athletes they are today. Parties with friends. Going out for ice cream. Sleeping in. In some cases even the towns they lived in. They each made a choice, then followed through.

The relentless, daily demands of training require such self-discipline.

I am not idealizing these people. I am sure that each one of them has failed at their own standards, has had days of dejection and wanting to give up. But they didn't. That's what inspires me.

I think about this in my own life. I want to do a lot. A LOT.

I want to be the best wife, mother, daughter, teacher, writer, homesteader, housekeeper, cook, mentor, friend (and more) in the whole world. And my definition of best is often a little lofty. I do push myself... sometimes... but more often I let that definition discourage me instead of inspire me.

The athletes? They have picked their one thing. I don't think you have to give up relationships to be the best you can be at your one thing (though your relationships will be affected), but you do have to give up other pursuits.

That's what I don't do. I don't pick one thing. Let's face it, if my priority is people over things (which it is), I am not going to be an amazing chef and author and farmer.

Seems I have a choice. I can pick one of those things and focus with intensity and achieve great things with it, or I can continue the way I have been going and have a well-rounded average life.

Truthfully, I'm on the fence! I suppose I have given up on some of those lofty goals already... by simplifying our meals, shifting to a more family-driven model of homesteading and so on. But still, I think I spread myself pretty thin.

If I don't focus more now, when I look back on my life will I be disappointed with my performance in the kitchen? Probably not. Maybe homesteading. Quite likely writing is the place where I will feel most disappointment if I don't put a little Olympic enthusiasm behind it.

But I am not willing to sacrifice serving others for that to happen. So I keep this in mind:

People first.

Yet I think I do still need to apply what I learn from these amazing Olympic athletes.

There are sacrifices I can make. I don't really need to check my email six times a day.

I can do the work. As Jane Yolen says, BIC! I can sit my self down every day and just write.

And self-discipline, oh that elusive fruit of the Spirit! I do lack self-discipline in more than one area. Like filing papers. Ugh. My desk would be a much more inviting place to sit and write if I didn't have these stacks of paper around me.

Olympic athletes lift weights and run to tone their bodies, even if their sport is not weight-lifting or running. My toning? Comes from time on my knees.

I really can't achieve the great things God has in mind for me, without Him. I can't be the person He wants me to be, and grow in self-discipline, without stretching my mind and spirit in His Word.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

So if God has called me to it, who am I to turn away?  If I am really meant to write, as part of the fabric of who He made me to be, then I must press on.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) Because when we do what we were created to do, we glorify Him.

What about you? Do you have a hidden avocation that you need a little Olympic fire lit under? How can I pray for you?

Reaching for His gold,


  1. Excellent thoughts, Patti! You've summed up what was rolling around in my brain, but without this clarity. I can't get enough of the Olympics either. Especially the background stories of the athletes and how they got where they are now.

    May we all take away the lessons you're sharing here.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I agree, these men and women are so inspiring!

  2. Great thoughts that I needed today! I want to write too! More than just on the blog. I have a whole outline for a little eBook,but I can't seem to make the sacrifices necessary to do so. I like how you put it into perspective, some things I'm not willing to sacrifice but others (like checking e-mail, Facebook, TV) those things can be sacrificed if I really want this.

    Mary Beth

    1. I'm cheering you on in your writing pursuits MaryBeth! I love it that even when God clearly calls us to something, He doesn't necessarily clear every obstacle. He grows us when He asks us to persevere, yes? And of course that gives us more to write about. :-)


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