Many professional athletes look like they have everything-money, popularity, excitement, and security. What people don't understand is that athletes often experience deep internal struggles. Loneliness creeps in when you spend countless nights on the road. There's also a tremendous amount of pressure to perform day after day. And it's not easy to ignore the criticism that often accompanies a professional sporting career.
I realize how fortunate I am to be a professional figure skater. The other Stars on Ice performers and I know how fortunate we were to peak in our careers at the same time ice-skating was peaking in popularity. We were at the right place at the right time.
But even in the midst of the glamour, I have times when I long for circumstances to be different. I've found that money and fame don't give me the security and sense of purpose I long for. It's hard to explain this, even to your closest friends, because people don't feel sorry for you when they see how much money you've made. I haven't wanted sympathy. But I have wanted to meet the needs that go deeper than my Olympic experiences and my career.
Ten years ago, after I missed Olympic gold by one tenth of a point, I decided I was going to find the missing piece in my life. Because I felt God had let me down at the Olympics, I chose not to look to him during my search. Instead I looked to friends, skating, partying, my boyfriend, and other things to fill the emptiness inside me. My life started unraveling at the seams.
Then, in 1995, a friend told me what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To my surprise, I acknowledged God was what was missing in my life. At that point I asked the Lord to take the reins of my life. I've found that Jesus Christ is the only person I can be completely vulnerable and raw and honest with. No matter what, I know he forgives me and is there to pick me up. Now I'm experiencing genuine purpose in life. I skate with more passion because I know my talent is a gift from God.
Though I will always wrestle with various trials and times of loneliness in life, I have a friend in Christ who is with me wherever I travel and whenever I need him.
(Rosalynn Sumners won a silver medal in figure skating in the 1984 Winter Olympics. The past several years she has skated professionally with the Discover Stars on Ice.)
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