I just finished writing an entire post about this weekend only to realize it didn’t say anything about what the past few days actually held for me. Sure it had all the information about what I did and where I went, it even had a couple funny one-liners, but nothing of substance; nothing that conveyed the heart of what truly went on, or has been going on in recent weeks. So here I am, re-doing the past few hours of work, feeling a little raw, but letting you in on a chapter that is in the process of unfolding, because truthfully the words are worth it.
This past weekend was the National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, NV and after a two year-hiatus on my part, I had the opportunity to once again be a part of this truly amazing event, both as an athlete and a member of the staff. As a member of the staff I played a part in the Friday afternoon conference portion, speaking briefly on two different topics: (1) How the community college system can be a gateway into Division One athletics for high school students. (2) The waning focus of young athletes and the importance of electronic disconnection and sleep habits. (Typing it out sounds way more official than I actually felt speaking!). The time I had to speak was amazing and left me with the opportunity for further conversations throughout the weekend with parents who love their kids enough to endure being around 1,000 other frappachino-caffinated high school pole vaulters… reminding me once again that, while holding a microphone in my hand makes my heart race and palms sweat, the ensuing conversations make every nervous moment worth it!
On the latter half of the weekend I wore the hat of athlete. So while the weekend’s main focus was for me to be a member of the staff, I couldn’t help taking the opportunity to get on the runway and compete. And here is where my heart desires the words to describe just how thankful I am for what this competition held. I cannot count how many times I have heard a coach say to me “focus on the process” or how many times I as a coach have said those same exact words, but this weekend I felt as if I competed in a way that truly let go of the result and solely focused on accomplishing the parts of the process we are currently working on. It’s hard as an athlete, or really any endeavor you find yourself pursuing in which success is measured by physical outcome, to open-handedly let go of being concerned with the result. Because I care. I care if the bar stays up. I care if the on-lookers can see my success. I care about clearing what I deem a respectable height. I care if my friends and family are proud. And letting go of concern with the result is really much harder than it sounds. Even when I am “focusing on the process” I will candidly say to you all, I am usually focused on the process only because I really want a certain result. And for quite a while now I’ve left many (too many) competitions feeling crushed because I cannot see past the result; a result that has usually been below my expectations or the expectations of others.
I don’t know if anything I am saying is ringing true in your own heart, but a weight that quickly becomes hard to bear is thrown over your shoulders when the expectations of man begin to outweigh the expectations of God, and you’ll find yourself struggling with depression, anxiety, and/or fear. To what degree? I think that will vary from person to person, but the longer it goes on the heavier the burden becomes and the harder it is to “stand firm” even in what you know to be truth. You’ll find yourself pridefully striving for results or apathetically shutting down. For me it sways from one end of the spectrum to the other. And God has slowly been peeling back the layers over the past few weeks and showing me just how backwards and twisted up it’s all become.
I’ve been trying to control the outcome of areas that in all honesty are outside of my control. All the while I have been giving up and shutting down in the areas God has gifted me in and given me the grace to accomplish. It comes down to cares vs. responsibilities. Cares are those things which you care about but are not actually within your realm of control. Like I said above, I care whether or not the cross bar stays up. I care if on-lookers see my success. I care if my friends and family are proud. I care about how others react to what I write or how I speak. But all those things are not in my realm of jurisdiction. Responsibilities on the other hand are those areas which God has given me the ability to act upon and accomplish. God has given me the ability to run and jump onto a 14′ pole. He has given me the ability to write blogs. He has given me the ability to speak words. And I have the responsibility to use and cultivate those gifts. I have to start recognizing the difference between what I care about and what is actually my responsibility.
And here’s the most beautiful thing! As I begin to distinguish between the two, cares and responsibilities, I am free to cultivate my God-given abilities while casting every result, every CARE, into the hands of God! Trusting that He is good. Trusting that whatever happens, whether the cross-bar stays up or crashes to the ground, whether onlookers deem me successful or not, whether people react with support or indifference, He is shaping my heart and my character to look more and more like Christ. I’m not sure if you’ve ever struggled with fear or anxiety. I’m not sure what your cares are or in what areas you’ve been gifted for responsibility. But I do know this: God doesn’t promise success in the way the world views success, He promises a successful finishing of the work He began – the incredible work of shaping you into the Christ-like image bearer of Himself! So if you’re like me, struggling to control your cares and giving up on your responsibilities, anxiously and fearfully trying to do this thing that you are called to do… can I encourage you to spend a few moments praying that He would give you clarity between your cares and responsibilities? Then, will you believe me when I say that He is GOOD and trustworthy, and be willing to cast your cares upon Him so you are free to run your race!? The world needs to see that God is good and the only one faithful enough to consistently carry the burden of our cares!
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you!” (1 Peter 5:7)
SOAR Intentionally my friends! You are loved!