Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Saddest Part of the Lance Armstrong Story

I was a Lance Armstrong supporter from the beginning. He grew up where I live, and I bought my road bike and gear from Richardson Bike Mart, the store he rode out of when he began his triathlon career. He was a hero whom I pointed to often in conversations, writing, and messages as an example of what persistence and the human spirit can overcome. I believed him until the trophies started falling, and then I wondered. Not until he gave the series of "yeses" to Oprah's questions was I totally convinced he had been lying to us all.

Paul and Me in 2009
I have ridden three times in the Ride for the Roses in Austin, raising funds for his foundation, LiveStrong. One of the most meaningful finishes in my life was riding with my cancer-survivor friend, Paul Olson, who finished the ride after much pain but with great joy. That ride down the final stretch with him as he received his survivor rose touched me deeply, and I gladly gave to the foundation Lance started.

I know Lance was not a man of faith. Abandoned by his bio-dad and treated in an unchristian way by his Christian step-father who gave him his Armstrong name surely did not set the platform for a trusting relationship with anyone. But, I still prayed his heart would be changed from "win at all cost" to serving others with a humble heart.

I didn't watch all of the Oprah interview the first night, but it was clear in what I did see that he was there to give "just the facts, Ma'am," seemingly because he got caught--not because he was sorry. 

The second night's interview was what caught my attention. I had not seen a tear-filled emotion on his face throughout the interview until he talked about his family. I knew he still had a heart when he began to talk about disappointing his mother and his children.

The saddest part of the whole story for me was when he told his son to quit defending his father. His 13-year-old son had fought for his dad his entire life, believing the lies he told him and the world. Now, the dad he fought for and trusted, told him it was all a lie. Lance finally saw the hurt he rained on others. His competitors, friends, sponsors, and foundation people could all get over it, he said through his actions, but he could not get past what he did to his family.

For his confession about his family, I am grateful. It tells me he has a heart, and there is hope that heart will lead him to repentance and a new way of life. I pray for him as I do Tiger Woods--incredibly gifted and successful athletes who would be complete in a relationship with God. 

The loss of trophies brought him to the confessional booth of Oprah's show. The loss of a trusting relationship with his son may bring him to the confessional booth of faith. 

Lance Armstrong is an example of do whatever it takes to win. For that, he is a the top of the ladder. He is also an example of Jesus' teaching, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) For that, I pray he will become a new man.

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