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In athletics, how do you maintain hope when tangible success seems to elude you?

If you’ve been an athlete (or a human being) for more than a few months you’ve probably asked yourself that question at least once. So I wanted to start this post with quotes coming from the mouths of people, men and women alike, who are considered some of the most successful athletes around…

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“Things won’t go perfect. It’s all about how you adapt from those things and learn from those mistakes.” Michael Phelps (Most Olympic medals of anyone in any sport)

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan (5 Time NBA MVP)

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“Every strike brings me closer to my next home run.” – Babe Ruth (714 Career Homeruns)

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“You can’t become a winner overnight, or even in a couple of years — it takes time…You will lose races and you will have to accept that, learn from it and believe that you’ll win the next one, knowing that you’ll probably lose that as well. All the time you have to keep believing that one day you will win.” – Paula Radcliffe (World Record Holder Marathon)

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“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it… True champions aren’t always the one’s that win, but those with the most guts.” Mia Hamm (3 time Olympic Medalist Soccer)

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The list of quotes could be 1,000 lines long from, not just athletes, but successful people across the board! Now before I go any further I want to make clear, this is not just another “self-help” post on being successful in life, but a post that reverberates the biblical truth that the enemy’s number one tactic in stopping us from living the life God intended us to live is to plant the seed of doubt. He tries to use doubt to wipe away a force more powerful than anything on earth: HOPE.

The biggest thing I am learning is that doubt is a virus. And if fed, it will destroy any dream, no matter how much you want it! You cannot help that doubt will come into play, but I believe that you have to intentionally combat it with hope, even when you don’t feel hopeful. I don’t think any of the aforementioned champions would be able to seriously tell you that they never had one doubtful thought… but I can almost guarantee that none of them dwelt on doubt. Instead, doubt was replaced by learning. Learning produced growth. And growth ultimately produced success!

Failure is an opportunity for success as long as you respond with an attitude of learning.

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The Bible likes to call this concept sanctification. Meaning we are all continually being shaped by God to live the life we were first intended to live before things went awry; to look and act more like Jesus, our true hope. We learn to walk in a manner worthy of our calling step by step. Yet the enemy gets us to doubt our position with God and the truth that He is good. He wants us to hide in failure, instead of boldly learning and moving forward from it. Jesus always called people out on their sin and shortcomings, but He also constantly forgave them and said “go, and sin no more”… Meaning learn. Move forward. Don’t stay stuck in the pattern. And if God set this pattern for us spiritually, then it flows into the pattern He set for us physically.

If you find yourself struggling with doubt because of failure take a moment to see if you have stopped learning from your mistakes. Because whether you have the dream of being an olympian, a politician, or a musician… the ambition of being a great father, a loving wife, or a compassionate friend… the aspiration of graduating from high school, getting out of debt, or owning your own business… I can promise you mistakes will happen and failure will be incurred. Thankfully we aren’t defined by the mistakes, but rather the grace, giving us the freedom to learn.

If you find that the once burning flame of hope has dwindled because of doubt, take a moment to evaluate what train of thought you’ve been feeding. The Word says take every thought captive and to think upon things that are pure, worthy, and noble. If we continually give into doubt caused by failure, we will loose the hope that once made us believe the dream was possible. BUT somewhere along the way the fire that once burned inside will spark again. Once it sparks, choose to fan the heck out of it until it becomes a burning force to be reckoned with! Let’s move forward together! Let us hold fast together in hope!