Slow down.

christianity, Everyday

Bobby Pearce. World Champion Rower. Olympic Gold Medalist.

In the 1928 Olympics, Pearce was the only rower selected from Austria. So, let’s assume there was a lot of national pressure riding on him. Besides, who doesn’t want to win a gold medal?

However, during the quarter finals, when he was clearly beating his French opponent (and who doesn’t want to beat the French?), Bobby stopped rowing to let a family of ducks pass by. He then went on to have the fastest time of all 8 competitors in that round, later winning the Gold Medal.

Lesson learned? Slow down. Many people tell you that life isn’t a race. But Bobby Pearce proved that even when it is a race, you still have time to stop and help people. Even if those people are as lowly as some random ducks. Despite his rowing accomplishments – which, I admit, are quite impressive – the biggest thing I took away from Pearce’s life is the fact that he cared more about the welfare of a few animals than winning. And we should all live like that.

Bobby Pearce. World Champion Rower. Olympic Gold Medalist. Duck lover.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” – Matthew 25:40

Anxiety & Other Things

Everyday

photo

Most people know that I struggled with an anxiety disorder for the majority of my life. Thankfully, and through Christ alone, I have overcome that horrible 10-year period. The funny thing is that as I leave that part of me in the past, many of my friends and loved ones are experiencing it in the present. Through my struggles, I came across a little nugget of truth that has helped me tremendously. I guess this post is my way of passing that truth on to someone else who needs it.

The first two years of being a Resident Assistant at my university (Southern Methodist University) I held a specialized position entitled the “Academic Resident Assistant,” which is a fancy way of saying that I was the nerdy one. Essentially, I had an extra day of training on academic resources and study skills, and I had to host academic programs throughout the year. Fun stuff, right? I got an extra stipend every semester so it was totally worth it.

One year during training, we were learning about test anxiety and ways to combat it. One suggestion was to write an inspirational mantra or calming statement on a note card and keep it in your pocket on test day. The idea was to take it out right before an exam to help you mentally prepare. The Trainer said that this method worked well for several of her past students, but it changed the life of one in particular – her son. Now a lawyer, her son still keeps that note card in his pocket and reads it right before he goes into court for every trial. This is what it said:

It can’t eat me.

Go ahead and laugh. That was my first reaction. It can’t eat me? It’s such a simple phrase, almost idiotically so. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the truth behind its simplicity. After eliminating situations involving bears or other large carnivorous animals (in which anxiety becomes legitimate fear), no matter what you are facing, no matter how anxious you feel, no matter how much you want to throw up or run away or cry till your eyes hurt or hide in the back of your closet, whatever you are facing cannot and will not eat you. And, in a weird way, that notion is comforting.

I took that nugget to heart and I refer to it almost every day. And slowly, but surely, I’ve come to believe it. And you can, too.

“I can [endure] all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Dear 9-year old me:

Everyday, Lists, Ponderings

Dear 9-year old me,

Right now you are 22 years old and about to graduate from college–congrats! College is great by the way, you really enjoy it. Anyway, on the verge of your jettison into adulthood, I decided to write to you to give you some well-needed advice. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. There’s just some things that I think you should know that might have made these past 13 years a little different:

Wear dresses. In a few years you decide that you don’t want to wear anything remotely girly because the little boys won’t want to play with you. That’s just stupid. True, you end up with a bunch of really awesome guy friends in high school, but you miss out on a lot of key girl lessons that prevent you from really understanding girl-kind. Plus, people pick on you in high school for looking like a ragamuffin all the time. Believe it or not, the majority of your wardrobe in college is made up of dresses and skirts. Talk about irony.

Don’t dress your little brother up in dresses. It may be cute now, but you’ll pay for it later when he’s taller and stronger than you. (However, the picture of him in the tutu is still a family favorite so that one’s okay.)

Broccoli is really tasty. I’m serious, it’ll become one of your favorite foods. Actually, a lot of the foods that you think are gross end up being seriously delicious. Except for paté, stay away from that stuff.

Do more musicals. You’re good at them and meet some of your best friends doing them. When you get older you get so busy with other things that there isn’t time to do much theater. Besides, there is just a small window of opportunity to qualify for one of the Von Trapp kids…

Don’t be so shy. I know you don’t like to put yourself out there, but there are a lot of things you’ll miss out on because you’re afraid of making mistakes or what other people will think of you. You are an extremely bright little person with a lot of great ideas so share them. What’s the worse that can happen? I’m not going to tell you but it’s really not that bad.

Surprise! You’re an introvert. That means that you like to think… A LOT. This may not mean anything to you now, but you spend the majority of your youth thinking you’re an extrovert and that’s the reason why you get overwhelmed all the time. Oh, and there’s a difference between being shy and being introverted, so don’t use it as an excuse. It’s rare to find introverts who understand their extreme talents for introspection, so take advantage of it now.

Growing up is more fun than you think. I know you’re afraid of puberty and going to high school and having to act like a grown-up all the time, but you’ll change your mind. Yes, there are days when you miss making mud pies and playing dress up, but there are a lot of things to look forward to, like driving, wearing adult clothes, and getting to see whatever movie you want.

Don’t take your family for granted. I know you love your family now (you always will), but make sure to really cherish the moments you have with them and etch them into your memory. When you get older the memories of the times you are all together will become more valuable than you can imagine. Also, whatever happens, remember that it’s not your fault.

Be 9 years old. You’re just a kid, so try not to put so much pressure on yourself. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend your high school and early college years with an anxiety disorder because you think it’s up to you to keep the world turning. It’s not up to you to keep Mom and Dad happy or the family together or your friends from failing–that’s not your job and it will never be. Also, your future career doesn’t care what your GPA is, so you won’t need to worry about that too much.

Learn to love yourself. You try so hard to be perfect for everyone else that you forget to be the person God made you to be. Yes, you’re awkward, and no, that doesn’t go away, but you find friends who love you for it and wouldn’t change you for a thing. God will use your crazy ability to blurt out random facts and your disabling compassion and concern for others to do some truly amazing things. Stop comparing yourself to your sister, everyone else will do it enough for you. You are you. You are nerdy and bad at small-talk and socially-awkward and creative and talented and smart. Just watch out for your sophomore year of high school, because that awkwardness is inevitable and embarrassing…but you’ll live (consider burning all photo evidence, though).

Don’t regret anything. I don’t. You’ve done pretty well for yourself, kid. You got me where I am today and, although there were some cavernous bumps a long the way, I wouldn’t change any of it. You go through a lot in the next 13 years (gathering enough material to fill at least two seasons of an HBO miniseries), but know that you make it out alive and you learn from it all. Just keep doing what you’re doing now and everything will end up working the way God planned it to. God’s plan may not look like something you want to sign off on, but He takes you on an amazing ride that will change you for the better. He seems to know what He is doing.

Sincerely,

Me