I was highly involved in sports from a young age — from baseball with the guys and Tae Kwan Do, to ballet and swimming. Although my mother is a four-time Olympian in the sport of speed skating, she never once pressured or forced me into following in her footsteps. I would try speed skating here and there when my mom dragged me to practices where she was privately coaching others, but not until the time I was 13 did I fall in love with the sport. To this day, I am convinced God alone changed my perspective because He had a greater plan for me in speed skating.
Since the beginning of my skating career, there have been numerous challenges I’ve had to endure before I gained success. I have never counted, but I know I have encountered more failures than victories in life, but there was never a time where I blamed God for any of those trials. I knew He had a plan, and it was God keeping me humble and wholly reliant on Him to direct me in life; I just had to trust Him fully.
I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart around age seven one night as I prayed with my mom beside my bed, but it was not until I was 13 years old, when I was baptized, that my faith became a part of me. In front of the congregation, I asserted my full devotion to a Christ-centered life along with asking them to support me with their guidance.
I believe with all my heart that from birth, God has had a plan for me. Though I am pursuing my dreams in speed skating, God blessed me with my talent in speed skating in order for me to reach out within the speedskating world and share my faith in Christ and what He has done in my life.
Ever since that first time I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I knew it was along the lines of a missionary. Until recently, I did not know what that would entail. But in the last couple years, I have realized why I was given talent in speed skating, and in general, sports. He has placed my mission field right before me.
Being a missionary in the sport world is a tough task. From team sports to our sport, which is an individual sport that needs a certain level of selfishness, it is hard to be highly competitive and then to give all the glory to God when you are focusing on your training or racing. I am still learning to find that perfect balance, but that is what I strive to do every day and then to share that with those around me. That is my mission in life.
I have to thank my mom, my dad, and the rest of my family for their godly examples and for teaching me from their experiences how to mature in my faith in Jesus Christ. Along with Christ, they have been there for me through every trial and victory and have taught me so many life lessons I use every day. A verse that has always been foundational in my relationship with my mom is Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so must one man sharpen another.” While living in this world and in the world of sports, this verse is a great reminder of our purpose for each other every day.
The words from one of my favorite worship songs will hopefully inspire you as it has me. The title is ‘In Christ Alone’ and the lyrics of the last verse reveal my commitment to Christ: “No guilt in life, no fear in death — this is the power of Christ in me; from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home — Here in the pow’r of Christ, I’ll stand.”
I have been blessed beyond comprehension. From parents who have raised me on strong Bible-believing values from birth, to providing me with opportunities for me to achieve my goals in life, God has been there for me every step of the way and has never failed me. I give all the glory to God!
— Nancy Swider-Peltz, USA Speed Skater