Sports and Faith

I thought I could consider myself an athlete.

Until I watched the Olympics.

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But then I saw the Ford (?) commercial about how “we are all athletes” and was like, well, fine, if you insist.

In all seriousness, check out Krista’s post about how you know you’re an athlete. Anyone can be an athlete. You don’t have to have 21 gold medals like someone.

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I watched the #PhelpsFace shenanigans live on TV, and it was the most appalling and hilarious thing I’ve seen all year.

Anyway, we all know that Olympic athletes are downright inspirational. I was a little girl who always strived to be athletic in her younger years but never had natural athletic ability. However, I have really taken off in a burst of confidence these past couple of years as I’ve grown to love fitness.

Although I don’t participate in organized sports right now, and I definitely don’t even train like a middle school athlete, I am proud of how far I’ve come just dabbling with new feats at home. In some of my harder workouts and accomplishments, I feel like I’ve finally gotten a minuscule taste of the drive of a great athlete.

I’m sure you agree that it would be SO COOL to be an Olympics athlete (p.s. my blog/fellow BU Terrier pal, Gemma, is running track for Ghana in Rio this year!!! check out her guest post WIAW from last year here). I have glimmers of hope inside me that I could at least be a competitive athlete again if I really wanted to.

But I don’t want to. There are many ways to achieve your purpose in life, and sports are probably not my way. If you asked me, “What is your purpose in life?” I’d say something about doing God’s will and bringing others to Him.

That being said, there are so many parallels in the journey of an elite athlete and the journey of finding your purpose in life, whatever that may be. In my case, I’ve found that I can draw major inspiration from athletes for my own faith journey.

1) It’s difficult to start.

It takes a very special breed to say as a beginner, “I can’t wait to do that workout that will set my lungs and muscles on fire.” Likewise, I never said, “I can’t wait to go to church!” until maybe a year ago (read: 15+ years into being taught about and teaching the Catholic faith).

It’s a choice to start doing what will make you better every day, whether you’re in training or you’re trying to grow closer to God.

2) You have good days and bad days.

Pretty self-explanatory. Athletes get tired, sore, probably hungover every now and then. They don’t break records every day and they don’t get better every single day. But they use those off days to get better overall, and that’s how it is with the faith.

There are days when I am welling up with enthusiasm for prayer and good works. And there are just as many days when I don’t want to think of God or I don’t feel like He’s there.

The only way to get through those bad days is…to get through those bad days, with a constant reminder of the end goal and a reflection of how you can learn from the trial.

3) It’s easier with a community.

CrossFit raves about the community of support all the time, which I think is why it is such a success as a sport and an industry.

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I’ve talked about how my faith has grown leaps and bounds thanks to the incredible community of men and women at BU’s Catholic Center.

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You push others, they push you, everyone falls over, and that’s the end.

This is where I say, “just kidding, you help each other back up and move forward.” 😉

4) It hurts.

There is so much we don’t see elite athletes experience “behind the scenes.” The sacrifice, the pain, the internal turbulence and pressure… But they know that those are necessary experiences in order to become a resilient and freaking amazing athlete.

There is so much we don’t see in people who are faithful, joyful, and unbelievably at peace. Maybe they did have a great life, but maybe they didn’t. There is sacrifice, pain, and internal turbulence behind the most peaceful and joyful people I know. Getting through those trials is what makes them resilient and freaking amazing human beings.

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^^^One of my favorite quotes ever.

5) It’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

Watch Aly Raisman’s documentary and see how difficult her training was before London 2012. Now look at this chick—3 Olympic gold medals (and counting?). Seems worth it.final-five-medal-ceremony_ap

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The end goal at the end of this journey called “life” is eternity with our Creator, which I think seems preeeeeeetty worth it. And He told us it would be hard. And it is hard, but…

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In all honesty, publishing this post is hard. I know my audience, and I know this doesn’t cater to everyone, but my slogan up top there is “pray. eat. move. groove.” Pray comes first. Faith comes first. God comes first. And I wouldn’t be sharing this if I didn’t believe in the depths of my heart that you could possibly feel the same about Him, some way, somehow.

Whatever your creed is, I like to believe that people have goodness in their hearts to want to help others and spread joy in their lives, which is never easy. So here’s to using athletes as inspiration!!

(pretty terrible flow of paragraphs at the end there, but guatever, I need to go to sleep.)

So tell me:

How do great athletes to inspire you (if they do)?

What would you say is your purpose in life? Have I asked this before?

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19 thoughts on “Sports and Faith

  1. Great athletes naturally inspire me when I’m working out, because if they can train for 95293058 hours, I can probably crank out another mile/burpee/whatever. That said, they also really inspire me to find something I’m as passionate about as they are about their sport.

  2. Honestly beautiful is the perfect word for you. Your words, your soul, yourself. Everything is just so beautiful and your honesty & commitment to staying true to yourself is so inspirational. Sappy part over

    I do find them inspirational in the way that they are amazing at what they do but at the same time I realize what it takes to get to that point and feel bad for what they have to give up!!

  3. Per your number 2- I like to think there are waves when it comes to faith. Through a season of life, you could be going through a deep dip… which is me right now. I have not felt connected to God in well over a year now, and I know I’m partially to blame for that. I’ve been rather apathetic in my spirituality, putting research before worship. I’m hoping I snap myself out of that soon. The first thing I’m doing when I get back to SDSU is really immerse myself in one of the many youth groups there. I have countless opportunities to find support. I’m now finally going to take advantage of it!

  4. I think it can be hard sharing your beliefs on a blog because there’s always that fear, at least for me, that people will judge me or not want to read my blog anymore. You presented this post in a such a gentle, but honest, way. Love that 🙂
    I do find athletes inspiring, but I have to balance inspiration and comparison. It’s easy for me to get so caught up in their awesomeness, that I start feeling like a vegetable for “only” running a 5k or “only” doing a short workout.
    My purpose…I need to daily ask Christ to shine His light through me and make me grow in Him. That’s all He really asks of us, which is pretty awesome. Even if I couldn’t go to college, or have a career, or accomplish anything “big”, I can feel fulfillment and purpose in Christ 🙂

  5. “I have glimmers of hope inside me that I could at least be a competitive athlete again if I really wanted to.”

    Alison Chusovitina.

    Some athletes inspire me for different reasons, but I think the big one is not giving up, as cliche as that sounds- Even though Michael Phelps pulled that ridiculous face, he apparently did solely focus on Rio to beat that guy lol!

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  7. checking out that Aly documentary as we speak! these olympians work SO hard. I really agree that having a community is amazing and so helpful. Loved this post girly!

  8. This is so good. Alison, the heart of Jesus’ compassion and love really shines through this post. I know that these posts are hard to publish, but nothing comes through but the love of God that has been just soaking in your heart. ❤

    It's truly such an awesome thing to think about how what the athletes do there are such an amazing picture of the Christian life.

    Amen…. And God does amazing things all the time. ❤ So publish those posts in faith, because God does MARVELOUS things through His Son Jesus.

  9. I’m not really one for sports because I’ve never been that good at them, but I do find a lot of athletes inspiring for their perseverance, humbleness and dedication to their work. Michael Phelps is definitely a favorite, but I’ve always loved Serena Williams, Alex Morgan and Gabby Douglas as well!

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