Summer 2024

Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Friday, April 23

“This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them — for this is their lot.” — Ecclesiastes 5:18

Enjoy the Journey

Nathan Chen was one of the biggest names in winter sports heading into the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. A figure skater from the United States, Chen was by far the most talented in the field, possessing aspects in his routine that were beyond the skillset of most of the competitors, giving him a very real shot at winning Olympic gold and becoming the first U.S. Olympic champion in nearly a decade.

Chen’s first outing came in the team figure skating competition. Knowing that his scores were important to the team’s standings, he took the ice with high hopes and did all right, helping the U.S. team to a bronze medal. But the individual men’s competition still lay ahead, and he intended to shine in the big moment when he was most expected to.

However, when the men’s short program took place, nerves got the better of him, and the moment proved too big. Failing to compete anywhere near his capabilities, Chen found himself in 17th place after the short program. In an event where he was expected to be in the top two or three spots, this was highly surprising and disappointing to say the least.

Former Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton ran into Chen after the short program event. Chen was at the practice rink, trying to figure out what went so very wrong. Hamilton offered him some surprising advice, and it had nothing to do with technique: “Cue up some music you love to skate to and go have fun for a few minutes. Rock out on the ice! Loosen up! Get goofy out there and just enjoy the moment. Forget you’re at the Olympics and just let it all go.” Chen took Scott’s advice, and it ended up paying off the next day when competition resumed for the men’s long program. Chen went out and turned in a nearly flawless performance, rising 12 spots to finish in fifth place.

Hamilton taught Chen a valuable lesson that Olympics: There will always be pressure, but you need to learn how to enjoy what you’re doing. We all face times when the moment gets too big — when we become so consumed with expectations from others and undue pressure we’ve placed on ourselves that we completely lose sight of the big picture. As children of God, we know that our abilities and opportunities are gifts from God, which we can use to honor Him and impact others. But sometimes the pursuit of success can cause us to miss the ultimate goal, which is to glorify God and enjoy the life we’ve been given.

As you take the field or the court, remember to go have fun. Coaches and parents may tell you that, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. It’s great to strive for perfection and excellence, but enjoying the experience matters too. The journey is more important than the destination, so don’t miss out on the joy of it by letting the moment get too big.

— Katherine Singer

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