For He Himself has said: "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
I was inspired by the story of Sydney, an American Olympic Gold medalist, who, for years, struggled with anxiety and fear as she battled with the need to be perfect.
Sydney started running when she was only six years old. While in high school, she performed well and became one of the top hurdlers in the country. At the age of sixteen, she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. However, in spite of her success, she struggled with anxiety and fear. She felt that this was borne out of her need to be perfect in everything. She unfortunately did not medal at this Olympic Games and returned home to critical comments on her failure to receive a medal. From that point on she realised that she had to deal with the fear because she did not want to go on living the way she was.
Her failure to win first place in any race proved difficult for her. At the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in 2019, she placed second. She was devastated. Although she grew up in a Christian home, she never truly trusted God. These failures forced her to cry out to Him. She realised and acknowledged to Him that He was the only One who could help her deal with the anxiety and fear.
During Covid-19, she took the time to seek God. She discovered through the lens of His Word that she herself had nothing to offer Him but that the righteousness of Jesus covering her life is what is presentable before Him.
At the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, with a new focus on God, she finally succeeded in achieving gold medals in the 4x400 relay and the 400 metre hurdles. She has learned that God has not failed her and that even when she may lose she still wins because she is able to learn from the experience. She used to cross the finish line and feel empty inside but now she has joy no matter the circumstances. She is now running with a new purpose, a new goal and the goal is not to win a gold medal but to run the race of the christian life well. It’s about setting her mind on things above and wanting to honour God.
Many of us can probably identify with the fear and anxiety that Sydney felt. In different areas of our lives we may feel the need to be perfect, believing that perfection equals success. However, as Sydney learned, true success is found in Christ and in a relationship with Him. He does not expect us to be perfect. In fact, He willingly works with us to help us become someone we can be proud of, someone who honours God in both failures and successes.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us to run the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We can’t run this race alone, we were never meant to. God has promised to be with us every step of the way. He is the only One who can help us to truly succeed - not according to the world’s standards but His.
Jesus chose twelve disciples and none of them were perfect and none of them would have been chosen by human standards. Yet, Jesus chose them because of purpose, His purpose for each of them. God does not need or choose perfect people - there are none anyway. He chooses willing hearts desirous of pleasing Him; He chooses according to what He has planned for each of us.
I believe that Sydney discovered that God’s standards were a lot less stressful than her own and that she did not have to do life on her own. He would be with her every step of the way to help when needed. That’s a powerful and liberating lesson to learn. God loves us just as we are and is able to do beautiful and powerful things in and through us … just as we are. He is not looking for perfection, just a heart willing to please Him.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. We don’t have to be anxious about not having it all together. God loves us in spite of our shortcomings and failures. He doesn’t expect from us what He knows we cannot give. He only wants us to hand it all over to Him and watch how, with His help, we can live a life of peace, joy and fulfilment in spite of our limitations.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.