These words describe the emotional roller coaster I rode the other night watching the Olympics.
I was intrigued by the beauty and precision of these amazing athlete's bodies. I was exhilarated by their displays of strength and talent. I was disappointed by the elimination of Jordyn Wieber from the all-around gymnastics competition. And I felt triumph whenever our country seized another medal.
But the moment that brought the most radiant smile to my face was during gymnast Gabby Douglas' interview after qualifying for the all-around competition. Nicknamed the "Flying Squirrel" for her aerial performance on the uneven bars, this 4'11", 90-pound powerhouse has completely stolen my heart, with her infectious smile and sweet spirit.
When asked how she kept her nerves at bay at the Olympics, Gabby replied, "I meditate on scriptures like, 'Be confident in this.'" She went on to say that the bible gives her comfort.
I'm loving this little 16-year-old's reliance on the Lord and His Word. And I'm totally inspired by her willingness to share her faith so openly on worldwide television.
Specifically, Gabby has inspired me in the following ways:
To sacrifice personal comfort in order to achieve a goal
In order to train at the level of skill and intensity that Gabby needed to soar to the Olympics, she and her mother made drastic changes in her life. When Gabby turned a mere 14-years-old, she moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with Liang Chow, who had coached Olympic champ Shawn Johnson for the 2008 Olympics. Gabby has sacrificed a normal teenage life to live with a host family, all for the goal of advancing her gymnastics career.
I can't imagine allowing any of my four babies to live so far away to pursue a sports career, but I am loving the dedication and sacrifice that Gabby and her mother have modeled. It has caused me to take personal inventory of my life as I wonder if I need to be more sacrificial in order to achieve my life dreams and goals.
To remain confident when I'm in the minority
I have seldom seen Gabby without a radiant smile on her face, a smile that glows from the inside out. I observe this beautiful brown girl and it inspires me to keep my head up in all circumstances. Unlike the first half of my life, the last half has thrown me into many, many environments where I find myself in a drastic racial minority. I have attended multiple bible studies, board meetings, ministry meetings and writers' groups where I am absolutely the only non-white person.
This scenario has characterized a good portion of my life in this season, and young women like Gabby encourage me to stay the course, be confident and continue to shine.
To always be ready for opportunities to share my faith with others
The most important inspiration I've received from Gabby and so many other young Christians like her, is to openly share my faith in Jesus Christ whenever He affords me the opportunity. My heart is to never, ever force my faith or ideals on anyone else, yet, I know that I still have to tell my story. And my story begins, continues and ends with the Lord.
And as long as the Lord gives me breath, I hope to share that whenever and wherever I can.
So how about you? Has Gabby or any other Olympic contenders inspired you? Feel free to share here.