Mark Fairweather Tall
Wearing your heart on your sleeve
“He wears his heart on his sleeve...” Seldom can anyone have lived up to this phrase more than Felix Sanchez the Olympic 400m hurdles gold medallist. If you haven’t seen his medal ceremony, then let me tell you it was one of the most emotional moments of the games. As he took to the podium he broke down in tears and sobbed and sobbed throughout the presentation of medals.
For those of us caught up in watching the competition, it is easy to forget that each athlete has a story that goes far beyond the pictures that we are seeing. For Felix, it was the memory of the death of his grandmother on the day of his heats at the Beijing Olympics. He failed to qualify for the final and defend the title he won in Athens in 2004. Winning in 2012 brought all the emotion bubbling to the surface. He is by no means the only one who has been overcome with emotion at the medal ceremony. In fact, of those that I have watched, the majority of gold medalists have ended up crying. It seems many Olympians wear their hearts on their sleeves.
How different this can be to normal life. So often the question “How are you?” is followed by one of the stock answers: “Ok, thanks”; “Not too bad”; “Fine, thank you.” We may have a ‘public face’ that we put on for others to see and any crying is done privately. However independent and private we try to be, though, we all need people in our lives who know our stories. And in order for us to share, we need people who we trust will accept us and love us for who we are, whatever we might tell them.
Psalm 139 speaks beautifully of someone who knows us better than we know ourselves:
“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.”
God knows us so well because He is always with us...
“7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”
God knows our story and loves us for who we are. In coming before God it is as if our hearts truly our worn on our sleeves. This is wonderful news but it begs a question: What does God find in our hearts (or on our sleeves)? As we reflect, we need to be open to allowing God to change us. As the old saying goes, ““God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way” Perhaps we can join in the Psalmist in praying:
23 “Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting”