As millennials we are driven and passionate, we want to be the best, to push ourselves to succeed. We strain and stretch ourselves and work towards what we believe in. But is that always enough? What happens when we fail? When someone else comes along who is better than us? When we don’t get hired for our dream job? Then what do we do? How are we supposed to react?
U.S. Olympic gymnast and gold medal winner Shawn Johnson experienced this in a deep way in her life. If you were to look at Johnson it seems as if she is living the dream as her life is full of success. She was competing in the sport she loves and lived out every athlete’s dream of being in the Olympics, and not only did Johnson make it there, but she came away with 4 medals.
Going into the competition Johnson was under immense pressure as she was expected to win the gold. When she heart Nastia Luikans score Johnson said, “It was one point higher than the highest score I had conjured up in my mind. It was impossible for me to get a gold, I remember my heart just sank.” In that moment Johnson already knew that she would fail. She went out and preformed the routine of her life, yet it wasn’t enough and she still finished in second. As the silver medal was placed around her neck she heard the words, “I’m sorry.” Johnson felt defeated saying, “I was being given a silver medal at the Olympic games and being told I'm sorry. It was a validation of my heart that I had failed.”
Most of us won’t ever compete in the Olympics, but we all face our own pressures in life from the world, family, friends and society. We carry this heavy load and burden on ourselves feeling as if we need to live up to the expectations and pressures that are placed on us, but as even an Olympian athlete Johnson felt the sting of failure and allowed that to define her, which set her down a slippery slope. One where she was depressed, unhappy and felt worthless. (watch the entirety of her interview here:
When you find your identity in your success and in what you do, your accomplishments and your achievements then when you fail it’s crushing. But what if I told you that there’s someone who you can find your identity in that would never change or never fail you. `
As Shawn Johnson discovered through her journey Jesus is the greatest reward that we will ever receive. And when we find our identity in him we can be firm and secure in who we are. That your worth doesn’t come from being a gymnast or honor roll student or CEO of your own company, your identity and worth comes from the creator of the Universe the one who made you and loves you unconditionally.
Johnson’s losing helped her realize her worth came from God and not a medal, and through her journey of struggles she’s learned that God is a source of comfort and peace through all of life’s ups and downs.I will leave you with this last piece of advice from Shawn Johnson's book The Winning Balance:
“Trust that God will walk with you through the hard times. Be grateful for the many ways he is working out all the details of your life so you can make the most of the gifts and opportunities he’s given you.”