Jeremiah 33: 3Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Trying to Be a Perfect Athlete Isn’t Worth It. It was difficult for me to read this article which addresses the issues of athlete perfectionism and the accompanying anxiety and depression. In the article you hear of a young swimmer, Stella Metsovas, who rapidly moved up the ranks until she was working with Olympic-level coaches. She shared that her “natural ability didn’t match up with the mental capacity, especially at a young age.” Her self-criticism got so bad that she couldn’t even look at herself in the mirror. She says: “because I felt like such a failure for not being able to succeed” – even when that failure was just losing a race by 8/100 of a second. And Metsova did what many perfectionists do in the end, she quit.
Such stories devastate me because I know there are hundreds of thousands of Stellas out there today, and I know a number of them. Rather than just living in the moment, and enjoying the sport that they once loved, their minds are filled with self-doubt, self-criticism. Instead of playing carefree, they are burdened with heavy mill stones around their necks. It distresses me greatly that young children and young men and women are being crushed as they pursue something other than the pure joy of sport. They miss the mark.
As Christians, I would say we generally miss the mark when it comes to our Christian faith. I recently watched one of Francis Chan’s sermons called Knowing God Personally and in it he does a fabulous job of pointing out where we have gone astray as Christians. “When we became Christians, we were taught that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship, but everything we learn after that contracts it.” Chan goes on to say that some churches teach us what not to do, and for others it is all about miracles, and none of those are bad in themselves, but we become focused on other things rather than knowing God. Chan recounts his own search to know God better, and a recent morning with God where he just spent time with him. He thought: “I can’t believe I get you all to myself God”. Chan got it. He recognized that as born-again believers, we have the unfathomable privilege of having a personal, one-on-one relationship with the creator of the universe. But how many of us take advantage of that? For most our Christian relationship is striving to be something that resembles a Christian. It is striving to be something or doing some miraculous thing.
Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest comments that “our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God.” He continues:
“Personal holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it. If we place our faith in human goodness we will go under when testing comes. Paul did not say that he separated himself, but “when it pleased God, who separated me…” (Galatians 1:15). Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God.”[i]
My focus has often shifted to performance in my Christian life and I have sacrificed the awesome opportunity to just hang out with God. Whether that is in my office reading his word and praying, or whether it is running on my own in a secluded forest just praising him and his creation, nothing can ever compare to that experience – just me and God! Have you ever had that experience? Run into his arms. Experience God!