To be fair, Scott Hamilton was a unique ice skater for his time, a time when attempting a triple jump seemed extremely bold. Most skaters filled their routines of my childhood with artistry (graceful arm waving) and jump combinations. Nobody even considered attempting a quad jump. Yet the routines were clean and lovely to watch, usually fall-free.
So this brings me back to my disappointment in watching skater after skater fall down. Some of these skaters even won medals after busting their rears on the ice. They were putting all of their efforts into attempting the best performance of their careers, and that meant that sometimes they literally fell short.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press ontoward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:12-15 (NIV)
Each year I choose a word. That word becomes my goal for the year, as I attempt to embody the word. This year my word is "Arete," a word I learned in high school from my English teacher, Lisa Kee. She had many phrases for encouraging us to strive to be our best. "Surpass Vanilla" and "Carpe diem!" were two of her favorites. But "Arete" always resonated the most with my spirit. When Mrs. Kee chose that word to be our motto for our academic team, it spurred us on to do our absolute best.
According to Collins English Dictionary, "Arete!" is the Greek word for excellence or virtue, especially in the sense of realizing one's full potential. As I read this definition, I know that in one year I can't possibly reach my full potential. I mean, does anyone ever really reach their full potential? With each stretch or personal growth spurt, we are then capable of reaching further. So while living in my full potential may be just out of reach, if I'm reaching for it, I will be still attempting to live more excellently than I have been.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.....Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
- James 1:2-4, 12 (NIV)
Years ago I started attending a yoga class. I loved it. The very idea that I could tone my body and relax at the same time seemed just too good to be true... and yet it was true! At some point, life got in the way of my workout schedule, and I got out of practice.
Fast forward to a few months ago when my daughter asked me to go to yoga with her. I had put on quite a few...okay, a lot of...pounds since my last yoga class. Bending over to put my shoes on was all the stretching I had been doing on a daily basis for a while. I was somewhat relieved to find that I could almost do the basic poses. Just as I was allowing myself to enjoy the stretches, I relaxed into a deeper stretch of downward dog. At that very moment, an explosion of gas erupted by my backside. This fart was extremely unladylike. It was loud and powerfully embarrassing. Yet I didn't stop stretching. I completed the class, while giggling to myself.
I guess in some small way, I was attempting my own kind of a quad by getting back into a more active lifestyle. So this year, I will be reaching and stretching and working to live my life in an excellent way. A life of excellence involves pushing myself to try to be the very best version of myself, which is God's version of myself. Yet as I try to live the "Arete life" this year, I am bound to fall from time to time because sometimes when you stretch, you fart. The important part is what comes next.
Will you join me in attempting those seemingly impossible leaps of faith? I promise to help you giggle if you fart in the process, while our Father helps you to your feet. Then we can jump and stretch together some more.
Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)