Not an Olympian

Every other year, millions of people from around the world converge upon one fateful city to witness the best athletes from all corners of the globe compete in the Winter or Summer Olympic Games. When standing on the podium, or even in the heat of competition, others watch with envy, wishing they could do what they do. They may envy their athletic ability, lifestyle, or the praise they receive from others. No matter how you put it, Olympians are put on a pedestal, glorified in society as physical specimens that are a little more athletically gifted than the rest of us.

In my conversations with others, when people finally figure out what biathlon is they almost always immediately ask, “So are you training for the Olympics?” Most the time, I respond with a “Yea, I guess so.” I mean yes, I live in the Olympic Training Center where I train full time for an Olympic Sport in which I strive to one day represent our country at the Winter Olympic Games, but there's more to it than that.

Recently, I made the trek to New London, NH to visit a high school teammate of mine who was directing the music for the play Godspell at the New London Barn Playhouse. I knew he had been living in New York City for a while, but didn’t exactly know what he was doing in regards to work. When I heard he was conducting the pit at this show which was decently close, I wanted to check out what he was all about. Let me just say, he killed it in the pit. The music was awesome, and knowing the guy behind it all made it that much more special. Even though the show was great, catching up with him afterward was even better as I got to hear about all the unbelievable things he is doing in the world of Broadway. In high school, I didn’t know one of my teammates was going to be doing something as cool as shaking things up on Broadway and producing music that I could only dream of being creative enough to write. I was blown away by what he was doing, and the passion he had for it.

After the show, I had the opportunity to hang out with my friend and meet a lot of the cast and crew from the show. Most of the time, when my friend would introduce me to others and quickly tell them I was training for the Olympics. As we were hanging out word got around that I was a guy training for the Olympics. At one point, one of the actresses came up to me and asked, “Are you training for the Olympics?” I responded as usual and eventually she said, “Wow, training for the Olympics. That’s so amazing.” She then proceeded to say something about how out of shape and ungifted at athletics she was. I just looked back at her and said, “I may be able to ski or run faster than you, but I can’t sing. You have amazing talents of your own.”

When people hear the word ‘Olympic’ it often changes the conversation. When that word comes up, it often becomes the focus of the conversation. I do aspire to be an Olympic Biathlete someday, but it is not my reason for being a biathlete. When I first started biathlon, I did not feel God calling me to do biathlon to make an Olympic team. He called me to biathlon to teach me lessons I wouldn't have learned doing anything else, and to develop relationships with others. The Olympics may be something I achieve one day, but it will never be something that will define me. My training is for so much more than just a title. Just as my friend was able to rock the pit at New London Barn Playhouse, there is so much more to him than just making great music.

In 1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul talks about unity and diversity and how we as believers make up the body of Christ. Starting in verse 12, he writes how even though we are one body, there are many parts. He goes on to say how each one of those parts is essential to the body, though differing in their function. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? He writes about how every part of the body is essential to its function.

At the end of the chapter Paul writes, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” No matter what you are currently doing in life, you are a part of a larger body, and your function is vital to the health of it. Whether you are a musical director, athlete, doctor, or janitor, you are valuable because you are not defined by what you do, but by what you are, and you are awesome.

Just a guy riding a bike to ski on some sand

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© 2017 by Paul Schommer