Post-Olympic Spiritual Disorder
With the excitement of the Olympics now behind us, the athletes who medaled can still bask in their moments of glory. Yet, the competitors and countries who took the gold seem to glitter more greatly. This makes sense: They came in first, defeated all competitors, and are the best in the world in their sport.
Nonetheless, the golden athletes were not the only winners. While many eschew the everybody-gets-a-trophy perspective, an approach to life—especially the spiritual life--that focuses too much on winning and losing, besting others, or emerging as the victor may erode a simple truth about life itself: Grace abounds in vulnerability.
Our Christian faith teaches us that humanity is saved by the supreme act of vulnerability on the cross. Real strength grows when we accept our limitations and open ourselves to the care of others. Indeed, there are no prizes or medals for vulnerability, but there is the delight of maturity, the experience of friendship, healing, and community, and the grace of becoming more fully the person God has called us to be.
Watching our countrywomen and men stand on the top of the medal dais with our national anthem playing may have prompted tears to well within us. Few people have such an honor, though we all prize moments when we and those we love overcome deep personal challenges, combat the foes of addiction or injustice, reconcile a relationship, or manage an illness with perspective and hope. These experiences may not be broadcast globally or even celebrated with any fanfare. But they are the moments of grace, frequently aided by vulnerability, that carry us, delight us, and even define us. To be defined by grace is to “run the race to the finish” (2 Timothy 4:7). It is a race with no medals around our necks, just God's arms around our shoulders embracing us in love.