I Live for This?

by Andy Wood on November 12, 2008

in Ability, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle, LV Stories

Took a trip past Oprah a couple of years ago.  She was interviewing Russian figure skater Tatiana Totmianina and her partner, Maxim Marinin.  Oprah showed a tape of the world-renowned skating champions in which Maxim, as he lifted Tatiana into the air, lost his grip. Tatiana crashed face-first on the ice.  It was horrific – all three times I saw it.

In case you missed it, here’s a video montage of her career, including the face plant in Pittsburgh:

Tatiana suffered a concussion but amazingly was back on the ice 12 days later.

“How hard was it for you to get back on the ice just 12 days after that?” Oprah asked her.

“Well, it was very hard,” Tatiana replied. “In the hospital when I woke up, I just realized how serious it was because all my life and career could be over… I wanted to get back on the ice right away because I have been skating since 4 years old. It’s my life.”

Amazing story, but when I heard that last statement, I must confess, I kicked into “preacher mode.”

Sister,” I huffed to myself, “you need to find something more to live for.”

“What about you?” the Lord asked.  “What is your life?”

“I want so much to say it’s You,” I whispered in my heart.  “I want to say that Jesus is my life.  And beyond that, that I live to be a husband, a dad, a pastor/teacher.  But how can I really know?”

“Go back to the ice, and learn a few things.”

Here was a woman who skated when skating wasn’t, uh, cool.  Who practiced for hour after hour so that she and her partner could compete on an international level. Who was willing to risk losing, failure, even public humiliation for what she loved.  Who endured great – even permanent – physical injury to skate. And who, once her unspeakable silent fear actually came to pass, did whatever it took to return to the ice.

“It’s my life.”

What’s yours?  What (or who) do you love enough to become a lifelong student of?  What (or who) are you so passionate about that you are willing to risk failure or public humiliation for?  What (or who) are you so committed to that when you crash face-first, and it hurts, and you want to disappear or die or quit or whine or yell or blame or scream or pout or cuss, instead you do what it takes to return to that first love?

Jesus had two face-crashers on the scale of public spectacle.  One fell on his face, wept bitterly, got up, and led the first-century church.  The other crashed even more spectacularly, but wound up killing himself.

Take it from somebody who has made face-crashing into something of an art form:  The depth of your love – for Jesus, for people, for anything – is not measured just by how natural you look on the medal stand.  It’s how you respond when you face your greatest unspeakable fear or painful failure.  What do you live for?

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