When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, I was comforted by Psalm 112:4-5, which says, “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” I am looking for the collateral beauty that will happen during this dark situation.
This pandemic was a big curveball in my swimming career and plans. As a swimmer, my training is primarily done in a pool but now the closest thing I get to water is my shower. It’s tough having this big part of my life taken away from me, but it has tested the depth of my dreams, challenged me to find new ways to train and given me the opportunity to focus on improving the mental aspects of preparation.
Tokyo 2020 was definitely on the forefront of my mind. After qualifying earlier this year, I planned on being at the Olympic arena this summer where my swimming career would culminate on the biggest stage for sport but now that dream is further from my reach. The IOC has set a new date for the competition but the journey to this end is still very uncertain. There is no telling what the future will look like in terms of our new normal and how that will affect preparation for the Olympics. What I do know is that when we do get to compete again, these “202One” Olympic Games will have a new meaning for us all. I imagine it being a celebration for us athletes being able to do what we love again. We may race against each other but we will be united in our celebration of the freedom from this coronavirus pandemic, and pay tribute to those we have lost along the way.
With the sudden way in which life as we knew it and many things we took for granted were stripped away, this season has really caused me to think more about living more eternally-minded. I redefined success through God’s eyes and learned that any steps I take will allow God’s power to be made manifest in my weakness and lead to success. With that in mind, I am trusting God for success in my future by growing in becoming more childlike in my faith. I am acknowledging my limited view on life and my future, and trusting it to Him because of His sovereignty and track record in taking good care of His own. As much as I like to be in control of all the details and know what each step is going to look like, I am trusting God by surrendering my future to Him. I am not giving up hope (for all that I want to accomplish), but I am transferring authority over the parts of my life that I thought I had figured out.
I saw the need and open window to share Christ with others during this pandemic, as so many were plagued with despair and fear because of everything happening around us. I followed God’s lead to connect with some of my peers in swimming so we can encourage each other and grow through this experience together. Each week we virtually workout together, and I’ve started leading my friends in the study of God’s Word to gain insight on how other people dealt with challenges and how God helped them through it. My prayer is to take the same peace and hope He has given me to go through this storm and be able to help make the connection for them to find that as well. I do believe there is redemptive purpose amidst all that God is allowing on the earth through the COVID-19 pandemic.
My hope during this time is that many others will grasp the opportunity to transfer the authority in our lives back to God, who gave us this life we have. I hope that we will return to our new normal way of life with a new normal perspective on life, and greater balance with our time and energy going to things that will last.
— Cherelle Thompson, Trinidad and Tobago swimmer