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Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a charity masquerade dance/event to raise money for a young boy suffering from a costly medical condition. It was a real joy to help provide some surprise relief for this boy’s family as the holiday season (and medical bills) approached.
During the event I observed some fascinating social behaviors displayed by the attendees, 99% of whom were single and fell within the 25-50 age range. I noticed these same mannerisms at several Halloween functions I went to which piqued my curiosity even further.
I’m a people watcher, an “observer”. While I often find myself the center of attention as a speaker or visiting athlete or host, I am perfectly content just sitting with a small group of friends and talking the night away. However, more often than not I do not have the luxury of doing this, so over the years I have learned to quickly evaluate the personalities, mindsets, habits, attitudes, desires and motivations of the crowd, group or person(s) I find myself associating with for whatever event I am at.
As I watched the people at the masquerade and Halloween parties, I noticed that many were willing to give up their uniqueness in a good-intentioned attempt to be unique. Confused? Let me put it another way: I saw people put on the “important” and “required” social and fashion “masks” in order to fit in when they really desired to stand out.
This past Saturday, October 5, I had the opportunity to attend an anti-bullying event held in Salt Lake City, Utah. As I stood there watching the various attendees come through I spent a portion of the day pondering the bullies I had faced in my own life. From fellow students in school to fellow athletes in sport, I have tasted the bitter results of those who for one reason or another felt the need to force their own pains on another.
This time of meditation led me to think of another bully, one that can inflict true hurt and heartache. I speak of mental illness, a bully that no school Principal or mortal parent can ever put in "time out." No sibling can stand up to this bully on the "playground" of life and no spouse, friend or teammate can fully protect you from. This bully is the first to steal hope, happiness and energy from life.
I have often wondered what my life would be like if I had not been asked to carry this "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Would I be married with a family by now? Would I have a more successful professional career? Would I have done more in my sport of bobsled and gone further? Would I have deeper relationships and friendships? Would I be a better light unto this dark and troubled world? The questions, and possible answers, are infinite and beyond my ability to comprehend.
Last week on my Facebook we played the well-known game known as "2 Truths and a Lie". The object of the game is to give three "factual" statements about one's life, two of which are true while the other is false. The other players in the game then try to guess which are which, so you have to give your "facts" with confidence and a straight face. Think of it as a verbal version of the party game, "B.S."
So my three "truths" were as follows:
The responses on which were true and which was false were pretty entertaining, but since I promised to give the answers here it goes!
This past weekend I had the humbling opportunity to attend and speak at an inspirational and touching "Out of Darkness" community walk at Pleasant Grove High School. What a beautiful facility and what a beautiful day, all for a beautiful purpose. A huge congratulations to the many, many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make it happen.
It was a moving experience to see so many who came to honor the memory of those who decided to take their own lives. All across the United States, teams of volunteers give of their time and resources to organize these walks to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention as well as fund-raise for educational and supportive efforts to prevent more lose. As the AFSP's website states:
"In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status."
It was an amazing opportunity for me to participate because of all the wonderful people I met, but also because this is a subject that hits so very close to him since it was only years ago that I almost took my own life. Below is a copy of the speech that I gave to the event's attendees that I hope can inspire and comfort you in your own tough times. Don't give up. There is always hope.
Several years ago I went backpacking with a group down to Paria Canyon in Southern Utah. Located within the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, this beautiful 50-mile hike was a breathtaking adventure in some of God's greatest creations. With stunning sandstone "sculptures" molded by wind and water and overwhelming 300-400 foot tall cliff walls, this trip was where I fell in love with Southern Utah.
During this trip we would sleep out under the stars and I remember one night gazing up into the cosmos and trying to count the infinite number of bright lights that hung in the night sky. The air was so clear down there that I felt as though I could raise up my hand and touch the stars.
Touching the stars. Not many of us try to do that anymore. As kids we all had these marvelous dreams and hopes for the future, but somewhere along the way we start to lose that magic, that special spark of "anything is possible". Reality sets in and imagination goes out the window. No wonder so many people in this world are bored, sad, lonely and discouraged! You can see it in their eyes; they've stopped dreaming.
They've stopped reaching for the stars.
After an exciting fourteen-year career in the thrilling winter sport of bobsled, Christian author Jeremy C. Holm has given us the life-changing book, Fire and Ice. Full of unforgettable experiences and deep insight into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Fire and Ice is a must read for any sports fan or follower of Christ.
Whether in our relationships, our careers, our hobbies or just the daily aspects of living, we want to enjoy the best that life has to offer. How do we achieve those gold medal moments? How do we find peace and confidence and what truly makes us happy? We live The Champion's Way.