This story appears in FCA Magazine’s March/April 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
“Remember, LORD, how I (King Hezekiah) have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” – Isaiah 38:3 (NIV)
As a 7-year-old, Helen Maroulis was “recruited” by her mom to practice wrestling with her brother because he was getting discouraged in his sport. “Go be your brother’s dummy,” she was told. Awhile later, when Helen asked her dad if she could compete herself, he said yes, with one condition: she had to win her first match.
Girls’ wrestling wasn’t an option at that age, so Helen had to compete against the boys. But she took the challenge and, sure enough, won her first match! The rest of the season was long and trying, though, as she endured 30 straight losses to close it out. But that did not deter her passion for the sport.
Today, Helen Maroulis is a world champion and Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling—and one of the most inspiring stories to come from last year’s Olympic Games in Rio. I admittedly didn’t even know her sport existed at that level, but I will never make that mistake again! She’s a truly elite athlete in a grueling sport.
In 2015, Helen won the world championship in the 55 kg weight class. She soon set her sights on Rio, where she hoped to grapple against the most dominant female wrestler in the world, Japan’s Saori Yoshida.
What followed was one of the most complete pictures of devotion I’ve ever seen in sports.
Yoshida was a 13-time world champion, three-time Olympic gold medalist and undefeated since 2012. She had pinned Helen six years earlier in just 69 seconds. But Helen was completely devoted to dethroning the champion. She put her passion into action, studying hours of film of Yoshida to detect any weaknesses, working with a strength coach for countless hours in the weight room to get stronger and quicker, and even learning Japanese so she’d be able to understand Yoshida’s coaches!
Helen was completely focused and ready. In the end, she defeated the most dominant female wrestler in history, 4-1, to win the gold medal.
Helen’s story is the perfect example of what can happen when you apply the following equation to your life.
Devotion = Focus + Passion + Action
Every aspect of life requires a certain degree of devotion if you want to be successful. Greatness is never achieved haphazardly. It’s not attained by half-hearted commitment sprinkled with excuses. True potential can only be realized with whole-hearted devotion, which requires focus fueled by passion and put into action.
Focus provides direction and reduces distractions. The first question to answer is, “Who or what am I devoted to?” That helps create clarity around what your goal is and why it’s so important to you. Helen describes her devotion to Jesus as what keeps her centered and solid. When she went onto the mat for the gold medal match, she said, “Christ is in me, and I am enough.” She was committed to drawing her confidence from God and glorifying Him in the midst of the battle. Our devotion to God drives all other efforts. God is the only thing that does not change with our feelings, circumstances or challenges.
Passion fuels us with motivation and energy. We are most passionate about what we love most—the things we spend the most time pursuing and thinking about. Passion gets us out of bed in the morning and helps us overcome even the greatest disappointments or failures. When we consider the price Jesus paid for our new life, it’s easier to maintain our passion for Him. Helen was fueled by her love of wrestling, and it drove her to keep going even when she wanted to stop.
Action results in progress toward our goal. Unless you take specific action, you will never realize your goal. Plenty of people have a desire to be great and do great things, but they aren’t willing to pay the price to make it happen. They make excuses. Devotion requires a consistency of action that keeps you moving in the right direction. Action is proof of your devotion.
No matter what you want to accomplish, if it’s worth achieving, it will most likely require devotion. Focus plus passion plus action. Tap into why these things are important to you, and get to work!
• If you want to grow in godliness, you have to focus on Christ and pursue Him daily.
• If you want to be your fittest, you have to establish consistent habits that lead to health.
• If you want great relationships, you have to invest your time and energy to connect.
Success in any area of life requires devotion, but everything begins and ends with wholehearted devotion to the One who created you. Let it be said of us that “we walked in wholehearted devotion to Jesus,” and it changed every aspect of our lives for His glory.
DIVE INTO DEVOTION:
1. What area of your life are you most focused on and devoted to? Least?
2. Why are you passionate about that area?
3. What’s one thing you can do to make progress to be your best?