During free moments the last few days my fingers have found their way to Google, typing in the names of Olympians to which I have some connection – however distant.
Janet Culp, synchronized swimmer who swam in the same club as my little sister…
Joy Fahrenkrog Foster, archer who I was at elementary school with (though we weren’t in the same grade, it was a small school so most of us knew each other)…
Jenny Barringer, fellow CU alum who I happened to see speak at her church in Boulder when she came back from Beijing after setting an American record in the steeple chase…
And as I browsed various sites and blogs and interviews on their accomplishments, I experienced some familiar and unpleasant emotions. Jealously. Depression.
I’ll never be an Olympian. I don’t have the time to train to become proficient at a sport. I don’t have the money to train and coach at a high level. And my body’s not built for it. (They’ve done studies showing that many athletes have different attachment locations for their muscles, further from the joint giving them more leverage with less effort thus greater performance.) I’m too old to embark on a journey like that.
But does that make me less important or less valuable? The obvious answer is no even while my heart sunk with aching. Then a quote by Helen Keller popped into my head:
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
Even if she wasn’t the one that said that and it’s only attributed to her, it’s a wise sentiment.
I’m sure you all have heard the cheesy story of two people walking on the beach, one picking up beached starfish and throwing them back into the ocean so they can live. The other scoffs, saying there’s way too many beached starfish to make a difference. The rescuer says, “It makes a difference for this one.” It may be cheesy, but I like it.
I have the similar thoughts whenever I help out in Sunday school and experience a bit of panic. “There’s so many kids! How on earth can I make a difference in their lives? Show Jesus to them?” Then I back up. “Focus on this kid. Right here. Right now. Be here for her.”
I picture myself at the dry cleaners where I used to work, inputting and tagging clothes for cleaning. Not working on speed, but doing the best, most accurate, and efficient job I can. Because a man is going to wear this suit to a job interview and needs to look his best. A lady will wear this dress to a special dinner where a man will ask her to be his wife. And at the end of the day, I’m presented with a gold medal. For doing my best, and for doing my small task as though it were great and noble. (I’m sure there have been commercials illustrating that very thing, but none immediately come to mind.)
Now I work in an office. When I take minutes, or schedule appointments, or help customers, am I doing it to the best of my abilities? Am I doing my small tasks as though they are great and noble? I admit, usually no. I generally do good work, but not always with a good attitude. Granted, some work probably is trivial in the long run. Just like I cleaned a pair of pants just because they were dirty, maybe no one will ever glance at these minutes in the future. But there’s a bigger, more important reason to do all that I do well.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. –Colossians 3:23-24
Everything I do every moment of every day is an opportunity to show Him I love Him and how grateful I am of His love for me. When preparing dinner for your sweetheart, don’t you do it with a little more care and attention to detail? And you hope that person notices and appreciates it. God always notices and appreciates everything we do out of love for Him.
So I’ll never be an Olympian. So what? Do you know who won the men’s 100 meter race at the 1964 Olympics? WITHOUT asking Google or Wikipedia? (Come on, honesty here people! No cheating!) Unless you were there or know him or have a really good memory, you probably don’t.
Who’s the last person who gave you a hug? The last person you called when you had some exciting news? You don’t need to be an Olympian to make a difference in someone’s life. I know that’s not news to anyone, but sometime we need to be reminded of it. Me especially.
Yet I’m not going to give up my love of the Olympics. And I have submitted my interest in volunteering at the London games. Could use some prayers on that one as my odds of getting in are slim! I may not have a chance to be an Olympian, but I still have a dream to be a witness. Still hoping the Winter Olympics will get to Denver in 2022!!
By the way, the man who won gold in the 100 meter race at the 1964 Olympics is the only athlete to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. You can go look it up on Wikipedia now. :o)
P.S. If you’ve been wondering why a fanatic like me isn’t blogging more about the Olympics check out the Twitter feed on the right side of my blog, ’cause I’ve been tweeting like CRAZY!!! :o)