I didn’t consider becoming an Olympian until I was 18 years old. To be honest, that’s a pretty late age for most Olympians. Unlike most Olympic athletes, I didn’t play sports when I was really young. I danced! 5 days, every week until I was 12 years old, I danced, and I loved it. Okay, I loved most of it. Actually, I really really hated ballet. My face clearly showed it every time I had to put my hair in a tight bun and put on a tutu. (I’m still trying to figure out the purpose of a tutu. Seriously though, what’s the point?)
When I was 11, I realized that my friends were playing sports and I really wanted to join in the fun. (Do you see why I stopped dancing when I was 12? Ha ha ) I started playing softball, which over the next few years, led to track, basketball, soccer and eventually bobsledding and skeleton. I still LOVE all sports and will jump in on any game around.
The day my dad and I went out to buy a softball glove, I immediately fell in love with the game. Even now, my husband and I continue to play softball on coed teams every year! I love the dirt, the grass, the bleachers, the sky… I love the hand-eye coordination that it takes to hit, throw and catch the ball. I love anticipating the moves of the opposing team and trying to stop them from advancing each and every inning. And yes, of course, I love “the snack shack”. A ball game just isn’t the same without a hot dog and some “Big League” chewing gum.
In the game of softball, baseball and many other sports, there are lines on the field. These lines allow athletes to know the boundaries of the game. I often played the position of short stop. I LOVE playing short stop. The player in this position plays just behind the pitcher and off to the right of them. They usually have extremely quick reflexes, are fearless of the ball and are very quick on their feet. When the pitcher pitches the ball and the opposing team hits the ball, it is often hit in the direction of the short stop at a very high speed. (No wonder I love high speeds! Ha ha ha)
Because of my foot speed, (I actually competed in track and field in college), I loved the challenge to chase down the opposing team’s runners on their way from 2nd base to 3rd. Without fail, once a runner would realize that they were in a position to be tagged with the ball and get an out for their team, they would try to run away… far far away from the bases. It’s illegal in the game of softball to run outside of the base-line. If a runner runs too far away from either base the umpire will come running closer to the play and shout with a loud voice, “Youuuuurrrrr OOOUUUUUTTTT!!!!!” Ha ha I love this game!
There are specific lines on a softball and baseball field that are very clear to see. The lines on each side of the field determine if a ball that is hit is “fair” or “foul”. These lines are drawn in chalk and are clearly visible. However, between each base, there is an imaginary line called, “the base-line”. Without this imaginary line, a runner could run out of the dirt in-field and all the way out to the grass and fence in an effort to avoid getting out. While that could be very entertaining to watch major league baseball players playing tag throughout the massive field, the baseline keeps the game in-check and it keeps it moving forward.
So here’s the million dollar question that I want to ask you. Where do you draw the line?
Do you know?
Just like the lines of a softball field, football field, or basketball court keep the game in-check and they keep it moving forward, we need distinct lines within our lives that keep us in-check and moving forward towards eternal progression.
Sometimes these lines are clearly visible to us and we know without a doubt what is “fair” or “foul”. But… more often than we realize, these lines are unclear, they seem imaginary and we try to push our personal decision making agency outside of the dirt and into the grassy outfield. But who will be there to say “yooouuuuuuuurrrrrrrr OOOOUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT!”?
Without lines, our lives are left in the hands of the temptations around us. Is that really where we want to be? Without taking the time to define the rules and direction of our own “Game of Life”, even the best players will fail to succeed.
I clearly remember the moment that I knew I loved my husband, Janson. We had been dating for a few months and had just finished watching a movie at my house. It was late and we were both really tired. As the credits from the movie ended and the lights grew dim, Janson said that he needed to get home. I really didn’t want him to leave, so I asked him to stay for 3 more minutes. “C’mon Janson, just stay for 3 more minutes.”
That imaginary base-line wasn’t very clear to me at the time. Hoping he would stay a little longer, he immediately stood up and said, “I really want to stay which is why I need to go. Nothing good can happen in the next 3 minutes.” Again…I really wanted him to stay with me a little longer. He kindly walked with me upstairs, opened the door to leave, kissed me goodnight and went home. He respected me and his promises to Heavenly Father so much, that he committed to staying within the lines of the game. My love for him grew immensely from that moment on and his example of defining the boundaries has stuck with me all these years later.
Stand for something. Stand up for what you believe, even when it is extremely difficult to do. Respect yourself. Respect those you love. Decide NOW where you will draw the lines in your life. Take the time to really think about it.
Where do you draw the line with modesty? How much skin showing is too much skin? Think about it. Be clear with yourself as to what you will wear and define where the dirt meets the grass. Where do you draw the line with lyrics you hear? With movies you watch? With images you see? Will you allow 3 bad parts to pass in a show before you will decide to stand up and walk away? Or will your line be drawn at 2 or 1? It’s up to YOU to decide where the lines in your life will be drawn. What about with relationships? Where do you draw the line? Will you ask for 3 more minutes in a tempting situation? OR will you recognize that nothing good will come as temptation draws near?
When I was in high school, my seminary teacher had us think about where we would draw the line for ourselves within our relationships. He gave us each a quote to glue into our scriptures (yes, I’m old enough to say that we actually carried a book into seminary rather than a phone. Ha ha) I am so grateful for my seminary teacher and his wisdom in sharing it with us. Here is the quote that I still, to this day, often think about.
“The dividing line is a thin blurry one . . . The devil knows how to destroy our young girls and boys. He may not be able to tempt a person to murder or to commit adultery immediately, but he knows that if he can get a boy and a girl to sit in the car late enough after the dance, or to park long enough in the dark at the end of the lane, the best boy and the best girl will finally succumb and fall. He knows that all have a limit to their resistance.”
(President Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 65-67)
So, where do you draw the lines in your life? If you don’t take the time to draw your own lines within your game of life, others will decide and do it for you. Oftentimes, those others just might be playing on the opposing team and they may not have your best interest at heart. This concept has become so important to me that I’d dedicated my post olympic career to teaching others how to “live on purpose” and to live with purpose.
So here is the Olympic challenge of the day:
Set aside an hour of your time. (Wait, what? You want me to do something for an HOUR?) Ummm ya. I learned quickly in the crazy head-first sport of skeleton that if you don’t take time to make a plan, a crash is bound to happen. This hour of your time can truly save you from many crashes ahead. I don’t know about you, but that is totally worth it to me.
So…set aside an hour of your time. Get a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Write at the top of the page, “WHERE DO I DRAW THE LINE?”. Then, make a list of at least the following 8 areas below:
Add any other “temptation” areas that you can think of as well. Then, define, as clearly and honestly as possible, where you will choose to draw the line within each of these areas. What will you do once you are faced with a tempting situation? Write it down. What can help you to stick to your rules of your game? Write it down? Who can help you play by your rules? Write down their names, make a plan and follow through. This is how Olympians reach success.
Take time to reflect on where you are, where you want to go and what you need to do (or not do) to get there.
When you want to stay 3 minutes longer, get up and leave. Define your boundaries. Know your limits and remember… if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
Go get ‘em tiger.