I’m a sportsman at heart and love watching competitions. I like to watch several sports on TV, but none more than the Olympics. I like the Winter Olympics, but I really enjoy watching the events in the Summer Olympics.
During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, a reporter interviewed high diver David Boudia and his diving partner Steele Johnson after they placed second in the men’s 10-meter platform synchronized diving event. Because David had won gold and bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympics and came to Rio with a lot of pressure to perform, the reporter wanted to know what it meant to him to have won the silver in the synchro event.
He made a statement that I’ll never forget.
“There’s been an enormous amount of pressure. I’ve felt it. It’s just an identity crisis. When my mind is on this, and I’m thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy. But we both know that our identity is in Christ, and we’re thankful for this opportunity to be able to dive…”
David Boudia’s identity was not in “if he wins or not,” his identity was in the fact that Christ loved him and saved him. He saw himself first and foremost as a child of God. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” Although David had won three Olympic medals and hoped to win another in the upcoming individual event, he knew that if he didn’t win, it would not change his identity or crush his spirit. He was a child of God and that was never going to change.
When I heard his statement, a big smile spread across my face. First of all, to hear him say this on national TV was such a great testimony and witness to his relationship with Christ. But second of all, it was personal to me. How often I need to be reminded that my identity is not in being good at my job or in being a good wife, mother, or family member, although I try to do all of those things. If I stake my identity on anything other than who and what I am in Christ, I will never feel whole, satisfied, or complete. I will always fall short. If I give into the pressure to perform and try harder to do everything just right, I find that I still don’t measure up.
How we see ourselves, or where we put our identity and value, determines to a large degree how we feel about ourselves. And how we feel about ourselves affects our relationships and many other things in our life. If our identity is in being “good” or “right,” then we will never realize our true value. But if we find our identity in being a child of God, then we can always feel good about ourselves. Even when we do less than our best, or even when we make big mistakes, we know we are valuable because we are a child of God.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:14-15).
Like a little child, when we mess up or when things go wrong, we can run to our “Abba (Daddy), Father” because we know we are accepted by Him. When we find our identity in Christ rather than in other things, there is freedom. Freedom in Christ is a wonderful thing. I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus was perfect in my place. My identity is in Christ; I find meaning for my life in Him and what He did for me. Knowing this, I realize there is not as much pressure to be perfect. Wow, what a relief!
After winning silver in the synchronized event with Steele, David went on to win the bronze medal in the men’s 10-meter platform diving event in Rio. But even if he had not even made the podium, his life’s work would not have been for nothing, because his identity is in Christ. And Christ will never let him down.
I pray for you today, that you will cut yourself a break and know that your identity is in Christ. That you won’t get depressed or frustrated when you don’t do everything perfect, because your identity is in Christ. That you work your hardest to do the best you can, and leave the results in God’s hands, because… your identity is in Christ.
View David Boudia’s powerful testimony at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.