This is a guest post by Carol Schillne, a senior leasing executive with Craig Realty Group, based in Newport Beach, California and a member of the Retail Christian Network (RCN) leadership team.
I learned to swim when I was two years old at the local YMCA. I started competing when I was just six. God surrounded me with talented and positive coaches. While watching the 1976 Montreal games, I was captivated and found my passion to win gold. My Olympic dream was born!
God blessed me with strong, slow twitch muscles and I became a distance freestyler. That meant hours upon hours in the pool, cross training with running, strength and conditioning workouts. When I entered high school, I learned about college scholarship opportunities. Another dream. You see, my father died of a sudden heart attack when I was young. My mother is an amazing woman and did everything for my sister and me, but a scholarship was like another gold medal.
I realized that dream as I accepted a full ride to USC the year before the 1984 Los Angeles games. Everything was falling into place and after fifteen years of grueling work, I was on track to reach my Olympic goals. I was ready to “run with endurance” (Hebrews 12:2). In January of 1984, I was leading the country in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle; since it is not an Olympic event for women, I focused on the 800 and 400 meter events.
In June, after a lot of fanfare and a send-off by friends and family, I was off to Indianapolis for the trials. I mounted the starting block with one final prayer: “God, I have done my part. I have put in the hard work, I have watched my nutrition, my family has sacrificed financially to get me here . . . Please do Your part and get me on that team!” I hit the wall for the final turn. My arms were numb. This was the race of my life, but it didn’t feel like my best. I touched the wall. I looked into the stands and saw tears in my mother’s eyes. I had missed the Olympic team by three seconds. My quest for gold ended, or so I thought.
Several decades later, I recognize even more valuable goals that God intended for me. Being a successful business woman of the highest integrity. Being a spiritual inspiration in the workplace. Being a good mother and wife. Not as glamorous, you say? It all depends on your perspective. The history books will certainly make notations of all the medals Michael Phelps won, but I glow inside when I think of the number of people I can influence through my work, and the generations I can impact through my family. These are my gold medals.
I still love the spirit of competition — to compete with the best, and to strive to be the best. These days I long to be on the medal stand in heaven when my Lord greets me with an olive leaf crown and says “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
Lord, Thank you for choosing me for Your team. You formed me and made me for just such work. Thank you for guiding me, for strengthening me and for challenging me to continually grow in Your Spirit. Help me to continue to recognize and value Your rewards, and not just those here on earth. I look forward to Opening Ceremonies in Heaven some day!
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part;the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”
Pierre de Coubertin (founder of the modern Olympic Games)