I don’t know if you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics at all, but I always find the Olympics to be inspiring. It’s amazing to see the variety of sports and people from all over the world competing against each other while often displaying amazing comradery and sportsmanship. There are so many moments to feel inspired by—when an athlete wins a medal that has never been won before in their country’s history, when an athlete who is far younger or older than their competitors does well, or when an athlete overcomes personal adversity to even be present to compete. It’s the human interest stories behind the athletic competition that can often lift us all up.
This week, alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin had a difficult start to the Olympics when she was unable to finish two of her events. She was gracious enough to be interviewed after each disappointing performance. The inevitable question was what exactly went wrong? As she explained the technical side of what happened when she was unable to finish the giant slalom course, Shiffrin went on to say, “I mean, it’s hard not to dwell, especially for me, I’m always dwelling on these kind of heartbreaking days . . . But I just cannot afford to spend, or waste, energy on something that’s now in the past.”*
What an inspiring outlook. As heartbreaking as these Olympics have been for Mikaela Shiffrin (who is still in mourning after the sudden death of her father), she is doing her best to make meaning in the midst of that disappointment. Sometimes that’s all we can do because it’s impossible to change the past. Her words immediately reminded me of one of my favorite Prayers of Confession from the UCC Book of Worship (pg. 534):
How we long to hang on to the past!
We get all tied up
remembering, keeping count, bearing grudges.
Your past is accepted.
Let it go.
Live in the freedom God hands to you afresh each day.
Thanks be to God.
Yes, sometimes it seems that we long to hang on to the past. Or dwell on the hard days. But maybe, we too, can’t afford to spend our time and waste our energy on that. Maybe we are being invited to let some of that stuff go. Just a thought, for this week.
Thursday Thoughts 2/10/22