February 24, 2010
Watching the athletes compete in the Winter Olympics these past two weeks has been more than breathtaking for these medals not only represent being the best in the world; they also reveal amazing personal stories that illustrate the incredible resilience of the human spirit.
Apolo Ono, the son of a Seattle barber, has become the most heavily decorated competitor in Winter Olympic history, at a time in his career when many competitors may not have risked tarnishing the image of their former titles. Lindsey Vonn, skied 65 mph in women’s downhill to earn the Gold with a severely bruised and swollen shin she called the most painful injury in her life that only two weeks before inhibited her ability to walk! Julia Mancuso’s unexpected success has so far earned two silvers in the downhill and slalom, after enduring a serious back injury last year that everyone figured would not heal in time for these Winter games. Joannie Rochette, a Canadian figure skater, gives the performance of her lifetime 48 hours after the death of her mother. I was amazed to watch her facial expression change from anxiety to determination seconds before the music began. She literally delayed her grief by burying all of her pain for the 2 minutes and 48 seconds to provide a tribute of gratitude for her mother’s life. Jeret “Speedy”Pederson, flips and spins in ways that seem unreal to those of us glued to terra firma, and wins Gold in the men’s ski jump. Obviously his athleticism is second to none, but once again the real victory is the story behind the win. “Speedy” is a young man who has overcome his childhood abuse, the loss of his sister due to the actions of a drunk driver, a witnessed suicide of his friend and his own addiction to alcohol. Somehow, he was able to put all of this away to achieve his own impossible dream to win a spot on the Olympic platform for the USA.
I have been in awe to hear of such mind-over-matter, resilient, single-focused determination evident in these stories. They encourage me to push beyond the limits of my own comfort zones; get control of my own self doubts or fears of failure that hold me back at times. These overcoming stories also inspire me to assist the people who come to my office who feel they have lost their confidence and hope because of relational brokenness, setbacks, bumps, bruises and abuses have suffered in their lives. Such world podium moments show us we are all so very capable when we set our goals for a better life, and find the emotional support we need to continue on our healing journies.
Years ago, after a particularly dark period in my own history, I told one of my closest friends that it felt like my life had exploded into a million pieces. His calm but profound response is something worth passing on to anyone reading this today….. “But we know where all those pieces are, and we will help you put your life back together again.” Sounds like Gold to me.