Monday, August 6, 2012

On Coaching

photo Rueters/Rob Schumacher

She sat there, older but still recognizable, recounting the story that was so vivid to her you could see the reliving of it in her eyes as she spoke. Her legs were crossed, hands clasped in her lap. She looked very proper. She spoke confidently, though her voice sounded light with youthful helium tones. She had been a part of Olympic history and there are few that can say they don't know who she is. Kerri Strug had indelibly imprinted herself into the annals of time because she gave the 1996 Women's gymnastic team all she had that day and more. She did it in such a way that you couldn't help but love her for it. Watching the footage still brings tears to my eyes...

Hearing Keri talk about her experience that fateful, career-ending night touched something deep within me. She said, "When Bela says 'You can doo eet,' there is no questioning his judgement. You just do it! He says you can, so you believe it and you do it." (Paraphrased by moi...)

Oh, to be young again and to have that kind of faith in a coach, in ourselves, in anything! To be able to shrug off the failures and the heart break and the pains and say, "I will do it because God says I can!" Too much time, too much pain, too much world has shoved its way into my face for me to believe like that again, I thought to myself. And then God dropped the hammer...

I don't have to be young, inexperienced or unwounded to react that way. The fact is, God is still standing on my sidelines and shouting out encouragements, "Good job! Keep going! Stay straight, you can do it!" I just turned up my know-it-all-iPod, stuck the buds in my ears and figured I have to do this alone. Hogwash! God didn't leave me, He isn't hoping I will fail so that He can say He told me so. God is waving His arms, jumping up and down and trying to get through to me that He is still here, that He is still invested, that He wants to see me up on His podium, accepting His medals. God wants to see me win!

Wins will not be handed to me willy nilly as that isn't how God works most of the time. I have to step up, do my part. I have to train and practice and believe. I have to believe that if God is giving me a challenge, He is also equipping me with what it will take to complete the job. I don't get to question
Him on every decision, every turn in the path, every bump in the road. What would Bela Karolyi say if you constantly asked him "why?" (I shudder at the thought.) Good coaches expect you to take what they are saying at face value. They expect you to trust them because they know more about the situation than you do. What's more, they expect that trust to be the entire explanation. You do it because they said you can, you should, you will - because they said so.

That trust could easily be synonymous with Faith. Believing when your entire body is telling you it isn't possible. Believing when none of it makes sense. Believing when it isn't comfortable or safe or "smart." You see, faith isn't about reacting to what you see, rather faith is acting on what you know. Faith is about trusting that God is who He says He is, that He loves you and wants for you what He says He wants, and that He will never leave you or forsake you.

Do I have that kind of faith in my heavenly coach? Honestly, not always. Should I? Of course. That isn't the point. The point is that God is always here, always cheering me on, always providing the path for His glory to be shouted from the rooftops. God is selfish that way. He wants His kids to win so that He can look down on our little mop heads, wrap us in a huge Bela bear-hug and tell us, "I nuuuu you could dooo eeet!" After all the medals and the fan fare, that's what those girls craved most, the approval of their coach. No matter how hard he was, how much it cost, they wanted to do well for him. Me too! Well, not for Karolyi but for God... I want to climb into His lap and get wrapped in His arms and hear Him tell me, "Well done..." A medal would be nice too, but I'm thinking I won't push it.