The world is watching the Olympics. I'm trying to watch when I'm able. The Olympics are pretty engaging. I'm not sure how some of these athletes get their bodies to do what they do. Jumping jacks are challenging for me. What intrigues me are the personal stories - they're what make this a human drama, not just a sports drama.
After watching a little of the gymnastics competition, I've decided I'm not a big fan of the replays. Because so many of them focus on the mistakes the gymnasts make. Over and over, we get to watch what an athlete did wrong.
I wish that was only in the Olympics. Unfortunately, a lot of us know the feeling of having our mistakes replayed. After so many years of counseling so many young people, I know how big a deal self-image is. I've seen so many people who believed they're not worth much make life-damaging choices. Others made sure they knew what they'd done wrong - but not much about what they did right. If you think you're a "paper plate," you might as well throw yourself away, right? You can throw yourself away academically by not trying in school...socially by the friends you pick...musically by the music you listen to...alcoholically, chemically, suicidally.
And when we as parents dwell on what they're doing wrong, we inadvertently contribute to tearing them down. We don't see the "A's" and "B's" they get in life, but we spend a lot of time talking about their "D's." We won't change them by continually replaying their mistakes. We'll just strip them of the sense of worth and confidence they need to make right choices and do what God put them here to do.
Ultimately, it's not performance that gives you your worth. God gave you your worth when He made you. In His words, you are "God's workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10) and "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Beyond our intrinsic, God-given worth, it's the kind of person we are that matters to God. That's worth much more than the kind of performance we give. We need to be praising people for how generous, how compassionate, how unselfish they are - strengths for which there are no medals, but the strengths that really make a difference in people's lives.
For those of us who tend to constantly remind people we love of where they messed up, the Bible has some sobering words. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29). Maybe we should all do a little Olympic scoring of ourselves in the "building up" event.
Personally, I'm forever grateful to the God who I've disappointed so many times. But He's erased the tapes - because His Son paid for every sin of my life with His death on the cross. "Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name" (Acts 10:43). "Who is a God like You who pardons sins...You hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea?" (Micah 7:18, 19). That's where a lifetime of sins and mistakes go the day we claim the forgiveness Jesus died for. Never to be replayed. Never to be paid for. It was cancelled at the Cross.