Trading Up

Another racing season is over, ending on a low note for me in round 1 of the 1500m at the Indoor World Championships. 500 meters into the race, I was clipped from behind and my shoe was pulled off my heel. I ran for another 800 meters trying to keep it on but lost the shoe completely as we approached the bell lap. I was thinking if it eventually fell off I would be able to run more freely, but running in a sock made the track feel like sand. I placed last. 

If you read my last blog entry, you know at least I had a head start in knowing how to deal with this. Considering my race outcomes, I’d written: "I get what I get, and it will be enough." But even while typing those words, I'd had the world championships on my schedule and was very optimistic, fully expecting to perform well. I get what I get. Turns out this mantra is more difficult to embrace in circumstances that actually call for it. 

The hardest part is truly feeling ready and walking away from that. Some things were left undone. The preparation that I wanted to display remains between me and my coaches. This is how my federation reported my result:

Facts are facts. That’s what the results show. But some things were left unsaid. What people think about me shouldn’t matter, but it still stings that all the unseen effort is summed up like that.

On the other hand, this is an obvious opportunity to turn my theoretical mantra into a real response. When the race ended the character building picked up again. 

Over the past few years I have been working for an athletic breakthrough. More often than not my priorities and expectations have been way off base, and I’ve been so preoccupied with results, placings, and times - anxious to show that I am capable of more. Even lessons on perspective and mindset I have been eager to learn only as a means to get my desired results.

Despite my misguided motivation the Lord has faithfully led me on a path of wisdom I didn’t even know I wanted to take. Although I am still seeking that big breakthrough, all along I have been allowed to make progress in my character.  Before going any further... let me stress how far I am from who I want to be. Sometimes I wish to fast forward to heaven’s gates where I will be made perfect. When I am no longer be selfish and judgmental, and no longer behave badly or regret my harsh words. Even so, I am better than I used to be.

Whenever I'm upset, disappointed or uncomfortable I instinctively start planning to avoid repeating my current situation. But the only way avoid some letdowns is to stop trying or stop caring, which aren't good options. Through my unusual life as a professional athlete, and particularly through the low points, God is chipping away at my heart and refining my character. In seeking the Lord for comfort, answers and peace He is always there, and there is always something to learn. He has made me deeper, wiser, and more convinced of His faithfulness.

When my career is over, God won’t ask if I reached my athletic potential. There will be no medal report or résumé review. For now, I have a shred of understanding that I fight daily to hang on to: what I am being given is worth far more than the impressive list of accomplishments I’ve desperately desired. This truth makes a bitter pill easier to swallow. The outdoor season is here - I'm going to call my courage and get my hopes up again.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
— 2 Corinthians 4:17
Nicole SifuentesComment