Fullness of Joy

A little over a week ago I bowed out of the 1500m at the Olympics in the semi-final. It was a big disappointment, and it’s been hard to let myself think too much about my race. In a few weeks or whenever I'm ready, I’ll watch the video replay, analyze it, and get feedback from my coach.

I can say honestly that throughout this season I have held all my goals lightly. I have accepted my results- some great and some very underwhelming - with a peace and gratitude that in previous years had been somewhat forced or altogether absent. My focus has been on following the Lord as closely as possible and prioritizing above all my pursuit of Jesus.

Meanwhile in the weeks leading up to Rio, my training on the track started to really click. I mean reeeeeallllly click. The workouts I crushed were surprising to both me and my coaches. I would check my watch and literally double-take at some of the readings, not quite believing how fast I ran. When this happens it is VERY HARD not to get excited. The workouts indicated that my fitness was at a level I had never before reached, and I felt myself starting to dream big again. My desire for success and great results was escalating quickly. 

Source: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images South America

Source: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images South America

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve struggled with perpetual discontent with my results (always wanting more), and also fear of failure (I might not get those results). So as I traveled to Rio I sought a balance between firstly: the peace and gratitude I had enjoyed throughout the season so far, no matter what the outcome would be. And secondly: optimism, because the Lord is good and loves me. There was no reason to expect failure or disappointment.

Before the Olympics I sent to family and friends this list of ways they could pray for me:

  • Safe travel for my family
  • That I will be healthy, strong and rested for my races
  • That I will have courage 
  • And be optimistic
  • And not fearful of disappointment, and overall not think about the outcome so much
  • That God will allow me to have my best result possible 
  • That I will want God's plan more than my own success
  • But still believe that God's plan is probably that I have success. (this is optimistic thinking which I am trying to embrace, and stop expecting disappointment)
  • That I will speak and behave in a way that directs glory to God all the time & especially in the public interviews, etc.
  • That I will run in a way that causes me no regrets and that pleases God and makes Canada proud

The Olympic Games are a unique experience of heightened emotions for all the athletes, and I say that because I know so many of them. In the athlete village I shared an apartment with three first time Olympians, three 2x Olympians, one 4x Olympian, a World Champion & favourite for gold in Rio, and a World Silver Medalist. Before and after our races, we talked about our struggles and pre-competition nerves, told stories, laughed together and supported each other. Throughout my time in Rio I had moments of doubt, fear, and wanting to cry for no reason at all. Little things would set me off and I would hear myself complaining and not be able to just shut my mouth. 

In spite of myself God gave me nearly everything I asked for. No I didn’t have my best result possible, and I had moments that were not glorifying to Him. But standing on the startline for both my races, I felt calm, confident of a good outcome, and at peace. I was optimistic and unafraid. My semi-final race was scheduled between the semis and the final of the most popular event: the men’s 100m race. So that night the Olympic stadium - which unfortunately had had poor attendance throughout the games - was filled almost to capacity, and with Bolt and DeGrasse running, the eyes of Canada and of the world were tuned in. During that window of time, I ran with heart and determination and fought for a spot in the final, and my country saw me try. On national TV in front of a wide audience, God gave me the opportunity to thank my supporters and - of infinite worth: publicly associate myself with Him.

Last year, disappointment at the end of my season left me disillusioned and empty. I vowed to train harder than ever before - not as an athlete but as a Christian. And I did. 
A year later, disappointment on the biggest stage has left me simply disappointed. This heavy heart is just temporary, as I mourn the fact that my super awesome fitness and hard work didn’t pay off when I wanted it to. At the end of this brief sadness there is waiting for me fullness of joy in the knowledge that my greatest efforts were not in vain. In training my spirit I have become more faithful in prayer, more trusting in every situation, more confident of God’s goodness, more aware of his presence, more thankful for his control, and so much more deeply in love with Jesus. 

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
— Psalm 16:11
Click to view CBC interview

Click to view CBC interview



Nicole SifuentesComment