KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, FL. February 22, 2012 - Throughout my twenty-year career as a professional water skier, I was blessed to win every professional title as a slalom skier. There was one title, however, that was especially hard to attain… the World Championships. After many silver and bronze podium finishes, I headed to the 1999 World Water Ski Championships in Milan, Italy filled with hope that perhaps this would be the year I would bring home the gold and the title of World Champion.
As the top seeded skier in the event, I took to the waters knowing exactly what I needed to perform to win. I skied well during the finals of the competition; however, just as I was rounding the buoy that would bring me victory, I stumbled and found myself in a three-way tie for the gold. As a professional athlete, I can tell you that being in a tie for first is NOT an exciting place to be!
I sat in the water experiencing a wave of emotions… anger, pity, disappointment, frustration, and ultimately a sense of failure. Out of nowhere, my mind was hit by a tidal wave of condemning thoughts such as “You screwed up again! You are such a failure and a disappointment to your family.” These thoughts and many more pounded my mind and eroded any hope I had of victory.
As I sat in the water wrestling with my thoughts, I suddenly heard my father’s distinct Southern accent coming from the crowded Italian shoreline. He had pushed his way through thousands of spectators to the water’s edge and was yelling at the top of his lungs, “You can do it, baby!”
My father was there, encouraging me to get up and try again. He believed in me and my ability to win the event. He was cheering me on, encouraging me, and wanting wonderful things for me. He and my mother have always been there for me, believing in me and pushing me to be the best I could be. They believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.
Upon hearing my father’s words, a new emotion welled up inside of me. I realized the truth was that I wasn’t a failure, disappointment, or a screw up. Rather, I was a champion and able to face any challenge that was coming my way.
When the boat came around to pick me up, I made the choice to grab hold of the ski handle and leave my anger and self-pity in the water! As I made my way to the end of the lake, I captured my negative thoughts and replaced them with the truth. I focused on how prepared I was for this challenge and reminded myself that I was more than capable of running what I needed for victory. I also reminded myself that regardless of how I skied on the water, my father loved me not because of what I did but because of who I was…his child. Because of the love of my father and the hope he instilled in me, I was able to take to the water one more time and navigate my way to victory.
Isn’t this an amazing example of our Heavenly Father? Just like my father, God is running up and down the banks of our lives saying, “You can do it, baby!” He is by our sides ready to lead us to victory. He has a Word of hope and encouragement that applies to every circumstance of our life. He is able to give us His strength, wisdom, peace and resources so that we can face every challenge head on and with a confidence that comes only from Him. Like my father, God looks at us and sees not our failures, rather He sees our potential and He loves us not for what we do, but simply because of whom we are… His children!
Do you hear His voice? Do you recognize it or are the voices of the world, your peers, your enemies, or your past mistakes screaming so loud that you cannot discern His Word and love for you? God is calling out to you today. Listen for Him, capture your thoughts and believe only His truth. The truth is this: You are a champion in His eyes and you are a champion in my eyes as well! Know that with God, all things are possible. No matter how big your obstacles or how large your mistakes; with God at your side and leading the way… YOU CAN DO IT, BABY!
Kristi Overton Johnson is a wife, mother, and the world record holder in water-skiing from 1992-2010. Having retired from professional sports, Kristi now helps others fulfill their God-given destiny.
With a passion to share the life lessons she learned on the water and a desire to encourage the hearts of people through her faith, Kristi founded her non-profit ministry Champion’s Heart.
Champion’s Heart provides life resources, addiction recovery, quarterly magazine publications, leadership training, and sports outreaches. In His Wakes, the water-sports outreach of Champion’s Heart, has helped over 10,000 at-risk youth from across the nation and world have hope, experience victory and discover their purpose through the sport that brought Kristi fame.
Kristi currently resides in Florida with her husband, Tim, and their three children.
To read more by Kristi go to http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/his-wakes
To learn about her mission and work visit Kristi Overton Johnson Ministries.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.