Every four years my family becomes even more empathetic to the stories of others than the normal.y. The Olympics have begun and the repeated phone calls between family members has escalated. Opening ceremonies are a big deal. Every four years a comparison of previous ceremonies begins. How well does the host country tell its story? How well do they include the spirit of the Olympics bring in the rest of the countries?
I have contemplated why the Olympics are so significant to us. I think there are multiple layers for why these events are significant. The nostalgia of a sentimental moment of us gathering around a TV and rooting on athletes. The intrigue of various countries contributing to the Olympic story. The viscous competition followed by the uncanny dignity given to even the last loosing athlete after the race finishes. Even the music and various styles of national anthems are significant.
In this era of my life I have found another significant aspect of the events. So many of the stories are told of people coming from ridiculous odds just to qualify. This year there are even refugees. All kinds of tireless effort in gyms and hills and mats. And not for contracts or real fame; most will go unknown except for people who choose to know these athletes. Many are just glad to be in the arena. It was a win just getting there.
Every once and a while there is something that happens. Some less known athlete who is really just glad to be there stretches out. They find another gear for speed. They were a little more wise on the mat. They strain just a little harder this time. And the excellent athlete for just a few moments becomes something extraordinary. The surprise (shock? Humility?) on their faces says more than can words could possibly explain. I see one principle that I think applies to people in general:
Everyone needs a win sometime.
At some point the downtrodden, the worn out, the ill-fated, the dropped, the status quo, the one in the background and the fainthearted need a win. Something that reminds you to keep trying and your efforts are not perfect but they will be good enough. A race win that refocuses the whole point of every race. The kind of win that by most it will go unnoticed or by the closing ceremony that athlete will already be forgotten. But, for that athlete it will not matter because the win secured something intrinsically valuable within them. A kind of value that helps put things in a perspective where they realize something better. Everybody needs that kind of win some time.
If you are in a point of life where you need a win. I think the encouraging aspect of the right perspective is to know if you are breathing, you can qualify. And if you are in the arena given by Christ there is always a possibility that your fleeting, weak, inconsistent and scrutinized but determined effort will be sufficient for a win. Keep running, keep wrestling, keep jumping you athlete. And if the whole arena cheers on elsewhere there is still a crown laid up for us.